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Swing bridge renewals

We’re renewing some of the operating components on three swing bridges, Reedham, Somerleyton and Oulton Broad, as part of our railway upgrade plan.

Each bridge carries track over a waterway. To allow river traffic to pass through, the bridges have to swing open and return track to a safe state after each opening.

We’re renewing or refurbishing the existing electrical and mechanical operating equipment of each bridge to keep them working effectively. This will include work on the winch drive system, control panels, pivot pier access, hydraulic pipework and jacks.

Why are we renewing the bridge components?

Once we’ve renewed the operating equipment of the bridges, they’ll be able to operate more reliably throughout the year, giving river traffic consistent access to the ports and marinas. This will be beneficial to the local economy, especially throughout summer as tourists are welcomed.

The three bridges are an important part of our railway heritage. We’re maintaining as much of the original structures as possible, while renewing integral parts to keep the railway running safely through the area.

The improvements to the bridges aim to provide safe operation, that’s easier to maintain for the coming 25 years.

Looking ahead

We’ve finished surveying the bridges and continue to plan the work. Our team are planning to begin works in late Autumn 2022, but this is yet to be confirmed.

Take a look below at why we’re doing the works, and how we used drones to survey the bridges.

Watch drone footage of Reedham, Somerleyton and Oulton Broad swing bridges

Credit: Plowman Craven

Reedham swing bridge

The Reedham swing bridge carries the Wherry railway line, between Norwich and Lowestoft, across the River Yare near Reedham railway station. The original single track bridge was commissioned by Sir Samuel Morton Peto in the 1840s to allow the passage of wherry boats, which were too tall to pass under conventional bridges. The current bridge dates back to 1903 before the doubling of the track.  The bridge is operated from the 1904 signal box and in a typical year, is opened 1,300 times.

Somerleyton swing bridge

The Somerleyton swing bridge is on the Norfolk-Suffolk border, over the River Waveney.  It was built in 1905 to carry the double-tracked Norwich to Lowestoft line over the river, replacing a previous single-tracked bridge.  It is named after the nearby Norfolk village of Somerleyton.

Oulton Broad swing bridge

The Oulton Broad swing bridge is on the seaward side of the Oulton Broad lock. The existing swing bridge was installed in 1907, replacing a timber version installed in the late 1840’s to carry a single railway track across the waterway.  This is the smallest of the three swing bridges, with a different structure and operating system.

Rather than being cable-hauled, the slewing movement for this bridge is achieved by a rack and pinion mechanism, driven from a machinery house mounted to one side of the slewing bridge structure.

Contact us

If you’re interested in finding out more about this project, please contact us by visiting our contact us page or by calling our 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.

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