Chimney pots

The chimneys have their heavy stone caps and pots in position …

 

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Town footbridge temporary fix

So the temporary fix is being tried out, with the rather heavy weight positioned to hold the bridge down into place while new fixings are installed. Hopefully the bridge walkway will stay down when those weights are removed!

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Eight holding down bolts fix the deck walkway in position and prevent it from moving excessively under live pedestrian loading. It’s believed the bolt failure has been caused by a combination of

– 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

– contraction of the main cables and lattice steelwork caused by the recent prolonged cold temperatures.

It is thought the problem has built up over a number of years but remained hidden from view due to the design detailing.

Winter works, small projects

More updates from the Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond

At Waterworks straight there is still a 15mph speed restriction in place imposed in June 2016, and was a contributing factor to last year’s late running and was the subject of Winter Works 2017. The area should be returning to line speed for the running season as the welding has been completed to a position that will allow this. There is some further work required but this will be done later in 2018 and consists of a final few welds and mechanical stressing on the section.

Alongside the larger scale PW projects there are some smaller but no less important works being undertaken by our volunteer gangs. This year the projects are:

  • Bridgnorth PW gang. This year there is a focus at Highley where there is a quantity of spot re-sleepering taking place within the station area. Another job being undertaken is on Highley bank where over a period of time the rails “creep” downhill and require re-setting. This involves removing keys and barring the rails back to the correct position before re-fixing. This ensure all the expansion gaps are correct.

  • Bewdley PW gang. The volunteers are having a big sort out in the carriage shed yard at Kidderminster in order to improve what is now very tired track. Considering the volume and importance of shunting moves in the yard this is essential maintenance. Joints are being dug out and sleepers replaced where necessary to improve the general state of the track. Later this year at least two of the points in the yard are to be replaced as part of upgrading this vital operational facility.

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.”

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