Network Rail has lit the iconic Britannia Bridge blue to say thank you to NHS staff and other key workers – including frontline railway colleagues – who are continuing to operate a safe and reliable railway to support essential passenger journeys, and keep freight moving across the network.
The Network Rail-owned bridge which spans the Menai Strait between Anglesey and the mainland carrying the railway line from Chester to Holyhead, was illuminated at 8pm on Thursday (23 April) to coincide with the nation’s weekly Clap for Carers.
The lighting of the Grade II listed structure was supported by the Welsh Government – responsible for the A55 road also carried by the bridge – and rail industry partners from Transport for Wales and British Transport Police.
Originally designed by railway pioneer Robert Stephenson, Britannia Bridge recently celebrated its 170th anniversary. Completed in 1850, it was devastated by fire in 1970 and subsequently rebuilt as a combined road and rail bridge, using the masonry supports and iconic stone lions from Stephenson’s original structure.
Network Rail worked with a specialist team from Enlightened Ltd to deliver the illumination. Following the example set at Glasgow Central Station, the Royal Albert Bridge in Plymouth and Bristol Temple Meads station, this is the first-time rail infrastructure in Wales has been lit to mark Clap for Carers.
Bill Kelly, Network Rail’s Route Director for Wales and Borders, said:
“We are really proud of NHS staff and all key workers on the frontline against Coronavirus. We wanted to do something special to show our solidarity with them, as well as paying tribute to rail workers across Wales and Borders who have responded to this national emergency so magnificently.
“Passenger numbers are very low – which is fantastic as it means people are staying home to help save lives – but we continue to have a vital role: supporting essential journeys and moving freight across the network that is helping keep our supermarkets and pharmacies stocked with food and medicines.”
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales said:
“The hard work, dedication and skill of individuals working to do all they can to provide crucial services and keep us safe and well through the Coronavirus crisis is an inspiration to us all. These people are helping keep critical services up and down the country in operation through enormous challenges and it’s important that we take time out to say a public ‘thank you’ to each and every one.”
James Price, CEO of Transport for Wales said:
“I’d like to thank all our NHS staff and key workers who are truly dedicated and supporting the country in the fight against Covid19. Across the whole of our network we’ve seen a collaborative team approach and it’s great to pay tribute to all those involved.
“We continue to urge all our customers to please stay at home and our recent figures reveal a 95% passenger number drop, which indicates that people are listening. We are currently running a reduced timetable to provide essential travel links for all our key workers and we’ve expanded our cleaning capabilities to ensure the safety of our customers and staff.”
Andy Morgan, Chief Superintendent for British Transport Police in Wales added:
“We’re proud to support our partners in this well-deserved display of appreciation to those on the frontline of the fight against Coronavirus – from healthcare and retail workers to our officers and railway industry colleagues. I have always felt that they all do an amazing job, and perhaps something we as a society take for granted, but this situation has reminded everyone just how important they are to us.
“We’re pleased to see the majority of people sticking to the Government guidelines – helping us to focus on getting key workers to where they need to be. We’d like to say a big thank you to those continuing to stay at home – we hope everyone enjoyed this colourful thank you.”