Town footbridge

Work to repair the footbridge at the station will begin on Monday, after engineers revealed the problem was “a lot worse than first envisaged”.

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The bridge was closed to pedestrians on January 6, after staff from the SVR station notified police that the end of the footbridge, on the station side, “had lifted up significantly and appeared to be hanging dangerously in mid-air”.

Shropshire Council engineers have now carried out an investigation to discover the cause of the problem, believed to be the effects of cold weather and the long-term wear of people using it, and come up with a way to fix it.

However, the initial work will be a temporary repair, intended to be completed before February 19.

It will then remain open throughout the summer before contractors return for permanent repairs in late October, early November.

Gurnek Singh, Shropshire Council’s interim bridges and structures manager, said the problem had been hidden for many years despite inspections because of the design of the bridge.

He said: “The holding down bolt anchorages to the west end bearing supports have completely failed. The exact cause of failure is still largely unknown, and engineers have been looking at as-built records and will be undertaking further analysis work, modelling and calculations to try to determine the cause of the failure.

“The eight holding down bolts fix the deck walkway in position and prevent it from moving excessively under live pedestrian loading. However, engineers looking at the mode of failure believe the bolt failure has been caused by a combination of slat laden de-icing salts, which have penetrated onto the tops of the bank supports and ‘eaten’ away at the high tensile steel bolts; cyclic fatigue failure due to pedestrian live loading; and contraction of the main cables and lattice steelwork caused by the recent prolonged cold temperatures. Engineers also suspect the problem has been ongoing for a number of years, but has remained hidden from view during routine bridge inspections due to the design detailing.”

Over the coming months engineers will be working on the permanent solution to replace the holding down anchorage systems, and to tighten up the tension in the cables to the west tower, which have slackened following the failure of the holding down bolts.

Shropshire Council said that engineers will continue to monitor the footbridge on a regular basis to make sure it is safe until the permanent repairs are completed.

Steve Brown, the authority’s highways, transport and environmental maintenance manager, said: “Engineers from the council and its consultant WSP who have been assessing the damage and reviewing historical records, and have confirmed that it is a lot worse than first envisaged. Works to design a permanent repair will also be a lot more complex and therefore engineers have worked up a ‘quick-fix’ solution to enable the footbridge to be re-opened sooner to avoid major disruption to members of the public and tourist visiting the SVR.

“The footbridge is also a vital link between the SVR station and the surrounding facilities and businesses in the town centre. A permanent solution will be drawn up in the interim period, with works being planned for later in the year to avoid the peak tourism season.”

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New build roof

The severe snowfalls experienced before Christmas caused the best part of a week to be lost on site. The planned temporary covering over the roof was not effected and unfortunately this led to the roof trusses being exposed longer than we would have liked to the weather. The temporary roof covering will shortly be installed and allow the drying out to begin.

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The rear flat roof of the toilets and buffet are now in a position to accept the specialist contractors to apply the zinc covering.

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The buffet chimney stack is nearing completion to cap level in readiness for all the stone chimney caps and pots to be lifted into position with a crane.

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Inside, all of the gaps left in the interior walls for ease of movement within the building have been closed up.

The new power cable was due to be installed but has had to be postponed due to the owner of vehicle parked above the connection point disappearing on holiday.

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Three GWR style wall light brackets are being fabricated to be mounted on the building with appropriate style lamps.

 

winter works, smaller projects

We’re in the middle of the engineering-works six-week closure when projects can be tackled that require no trains to be running.

Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond reports that this winter sees several smaller projects taking place at various locations rather than the large track relay we saw in 2017 at Waterworks.

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 A 500m section of bullhead track from Bewdley Tunnel to the Stourport Road bridge is being cleaned of badly contaminated ballast using a special shaped excavator bucket. The spoil is being removed to an area of the former sugar beet sidings for disposal. The length of track will then be re-ballasted and tamped. It is also intended to weld together the rails to create a length of bullhead CWR which will require the insertion of a pair of breather or expansion switches at the Stourport Road bridge end. At some point in early 2018 we hope to get a Colas rail grinding train to re-profile the railhead to remove the corrugations that cause poor riding.

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On the Bewdley side of the tunnel, contractors are using a mini-digger to remove the ballast shoulders using a riddle bucket to remove contamination. The clean ballast is then being placed in between the rails in preparation for fresh ballast to be dropped and the track tamped. The shoulders will then be reformed. This work will provide fresh ballast for the tamper to improve the ride and help to remove wet spots that have forming on that section.

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At County Boundary, the last part of the work is being carried out so that the line can be returned to line speed at that location. This involves the removal of 70 meters of track and the excavation of the ground below the normal ballast level. This is composed mostly of ash and the resultant spoil is being shifted to location at the former Kinlet Colliery sidings. The lower part of the excavation will then have a plastic geomesh laid and imported fresh stone material deposited to a depth of 300mm. This will be overlaid with another layer of geomesh followed by ballast to a depth of 450mm. The track will then be re-laid, ballasted and finally tamped. This work (recommended by the SVR’s consulting engineer) will ensure that we do not suffer future settlement problems as a result of the slip and subsequent remedial works. It has of course resulted in diversion of resources from some of our other planned relaying work but will hopefully negate further visits to the site to repack.

eardington

A project funded by the Friends of Eardington Station is also underway during the shutdown involving the partial rebuilding of the platform face. Although the station does not currently feature in our daily operations, a dedicated team lead looks after and maintains this wayside gem. The rebuilding of the platform will improve greatly the appearance of the station and allow consideration to its possible use on gala events at some point in the future. Some 8000 engineering bricks recovered from the London – Bristol mainline and donated by Kier Construction will be used. These have been cleaned up by the team over a period of time and will provide a genuine connection to the GWR. The rebuild is being undertaken by JSR Construction who are based less than a mile away from the station thus keeping the work local.

At Kidderminster, preparations are underway for the lining of the loco water tank similar to that carried out at both Bridgnorth and Bewdley. This work will require the draining down and drying of the tank interior followed by shot blasting. This provides a strong key to the GRP lining system that is then applied to the bottom and sides of the tank interior finishing off with a gel coat. This work is proactive maintenance of the tank and will greatly extend its life for a relatively modest cost. It is being carried out by Project Linings Ltd who have done the other tanks on the SVR to a very high standard.

The Kidderminster water column adjacent platform 1 runround is being swapped out from a fixed column to a standard GWR swing arm type similar to that on platform two side. This project has been a long time in the making having being on the cards since the 1980s. Although the current fixed column is an original Kidderminster GWR item (having been cast at Wolverhampton) the swing arm replacement will be better suited to the variety of engines the SVR sees. The replacement has been restored and new components fabricated and the original fixed column will for now be retired to the custody of Kidderminster Railway Museum for possible display.

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Both the lamps were removed from the footbridge as part of the rewiring and refurbishment of this important item of infrastructure. They were then taken to the workshop, where a new temporary draw wire was pulled through the length of each fitting.  Attention was also given to seriously rusted sections, which were cleaned back to bare metal and coated in red oxide metal primer. The remainder of the fittings were washed down using white spirit ready for a light rub down prior to having new undercoat applied.

In the tent, the three remaining handrails had their previously applied dark undercoat sections coated in gloss black. We are intending, weather permitting to fit these on Saturday, after which a further top coat of black gloss will be applied when conditions are more conducive.

WWCC Sat 13 Jan

Another good turnout this weekend, our immediate attention was focussed on the new handrails for the footbridge. After slight modifications all three remaining handrails have now been trial fitted, and once the final top coat of black gloss has dried will be ready for final fixing.

The workshop is still in a state of flux as the final positioning of the rearranged facilities is still being organised. Some housekeeping was done outside around our compound and the skip area.  Inside, the floor was swept and the debris removed.  We have locally purchased a metal clad double switched socket, which will be hard wired in to replace an inadequate extension lead supplying the radiator.

IMG_6121Further paint treatments were applied to the Booking Office doors out on to the platform.

Reassurance

David Postle leads the Railway’s Conservation and Heritage Committee, and is therefore in charge of the Bridgnorth Redevelopment project, and the new building being constructed at the south end of the station. He issued this public response on Friday:

It has been drawn to my attention that there has been some discussion on the forum of late concerning two major elements of the Bridgnorth new building – firstly the slow progress being made to complete the project, and secondly the exposure of the roof timbers to the elements for some period of time. As Derby 4 quoted me as saying some time ago, I am disappointed with the rate of progress, and I will now add a personal concern that the roof timbers have been left exposed for some time.

What I would like to reassure all the people who are discussing this on the forum is that I and the team are working very hard behind the scenes to resolve both these issues. We have been looking closely at the cause of delays. As you will all recall,the building was supposed to be handed over in October but we have asked for a realistic date for when that handover might now take place. As I am sure you will realise, there are now serious implications for us in the timetable whereby we had hoped to move the bar and complete the works to the listed building by Easter. The bar relocation can clearly not happen now until after the main running season is over due to the disruption and loss of income it would cause. This is also partly tied up with the situation over the roof trusses as we are currently assessing the implications of them having taken on so much moisture in the last few weeks. We are having to look closely now at a restructuring of the whole project timetable.

Bear in mind that the Bridgnorth project also includes the refurbishment of the listed building, provision of car park and access road, the installation of the turntable and the improvement of the public realm.

By looking again at the timetable, it may be we do things from now in a slightly different order, but rest assured, we will still be doing some work on the Bridgnorth project throughout the 2018 season, and trying to tie it in with the needs of the operational season and the activities at Bridgnorth station.

What I would like to reassure all of you is that we are not just sitting back and watch it happen. What we are working on has reached a critical and sensitive stage, but we are mindful of two main aspects – firstly that we have a responsibility to the generosity of people who kindly bought shares in the project in good faith and to make sure that their generosity is not used wastefully; and secondly that the end product is one we are proud of and is built to the highest standards to last as a legacy for our successors.

I am away in another part of the country at the moment, but just wanted to re-assure you all that these matters are not just being ignored.

What I am proposing that on my return next week, as soon as there is anything definite that I can report, then I will do so in an NBI for the wider circulation and you are welcome to respond to that if you should so wish.

Many thanks for reading, and I hope to report more positive news in the very near future about the very issues that you express concern about.

David Postle