A 142-year-old railway bridge in Portsmouth is set to be replaced next month in a multi-million pound investment to improve reliability of the railway for passengers.
Network Rail’s ‘team orange’ will be working around the clock for five days to replace Burnaby Road bridge and complete associated track works. The new 88-tonne structure is being made in Lanarkshire using only British steel.
The original aesthetic of the existing bridge will be reflected in the new structure, with the bridge being painted in cream and ‘night blue’; the colours of the Portsmouth crest.
The £2.7 million investment forms part of the national Railway Upgrade Plan and is crucial to bring the crossing up to modern standards.
Stuart Kistruck, director of route asset management for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said: ‘This crossing is a very important part of our network – 113,000 trains pass over it every year carrying 4 million passengers.
‘After such heavy traffic over such a long period of time, the old bridge is not strong enough. Investing £2.7 million to replace it now as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan will mean we can provide a reliable service for our passengers for the future.
‘We thank people for their patience while we carry out this work. We know it will be disruptive and we are doing all we can to keep that to a minimum.’
Alan Penlington, customer experience director for South Western Railway, said: ‘We’re sorry for the inconvenience this will cause while Portsmouth Harbour station is closed for Network Rail to carry out these vital works. Modernising the bridge and tracks will mean we can reliably run our services in this key area of the railway for many more years to come, which will ultimately benefit passenger journeys.
‘During the works, buses will replace all trains between Portsmouth and Southsea / Portsmouth Harbour. Those travelling to the Isle of Wight will also need to allow extra time for their connections.
‘We’re doing all we can to minimise disruption and make sure we get all our customers to their destination during this time but strongly advise they plan ahead and check our website before they travel.’
Load restrictions are already in place on the bridge to protect the structure, limiting freight train use, and passenger services would also need to be restricted in the future if this work was not carried out.
Work will take place from Monday 12 February until Friday 16 February 2018 during the spring half-term, when there are fewer rail passengers travelling and fewer cars on the road at peak times.
To complete the work safely, the railway line between Portsmouth Harbour and Portsmouth & Southsea will be closed from 1.15am on Monday 12 February and will re-open at 6am on Saturday 17 February. A limited train service will be in place from 8pm to end of service on Sunday 11 February.
Bus replacement services will be in operation every 10 minutes from 6am until 11.20pm during the closures, and Portsmouth Harbour station will remain open for pedestrians travelling to and from the ferry port.
Burnaby Road and Park Road, which are adjacent to the work site, will be closed to allow access for heavy machinery and equipment. Sign-posted diversion routes for road vehicles and pedestrians, as agreed with Portsmouth City Council, will be in operation during the closure.