The underpass at Stonea on the Ely-Peterborough railway line between March and Manea will remain temporarily closed for safety reasons until late 2020 to allow for crucial repair works

Following discussions between Network Rail and the local authority the underpass will remain closed until the repair works are completed, in order to prevent any further bridge strikes and maintain safety for railway users.

The bridge has a height restriction of 2.1m (7ft) and has been struck by vehicles 13 times in 2019. The last vehicle collision in October caused significant damage to the bridge’s impact protection beam and supporting brickwork.

Having assessed the damage in recent weeks, Network Rail contractors will now remove the damaged cast iron beam and timber walkway at track level and begin the lengthy process of installing a new protection beam over the coming months.

A new impact protection beam will be designed to withstand future bridge strikes and will include visible signage to warn motorists of the bridge’s height restriction.

The surveys, design and associated repair works will take 9-12 months to complete and the underpass will therefore remain closed for this period. Drivers can continue to use the level crossing next to the underpass to cross the railway.

Network Rail will inform local residents living near the bridge about its closure and the reasons for the planned works.

Mark Budden, Network Rail (Anglia) Route Director, said:

Because of the extensive damage caused by the vehicle strike in October, we need to ensure no other vehicles can strike the bridge until a new impact protection beam has been installed. This is crucial in enabling us to safely run train services between Ely and Peterborough. 

I recognise that the works will cause some inconvenience for local residents and motorists using the underpass and adjacent level crossing, but once complete, we hope the upgraded beam will protect the bridge for years to come.”