‘Tired’ Kidderminster footbridge finally lifted during early-hours operation
THE footbridge overlooking Kidderminster station, crossing both the Kidderminster to Worcester main line and the heritage lines immediately outside the station, was finally removed at about 4am on Sunday, February 13 after a full line position on Network Rail and the Severn Valley Railway.
Recent visitors would have noticed the deteriorating condition of the footbridge, a public right of way between Hoo Road behind Kidderminster Harriers FC’s Aggborough ground and the A449 Chester Road South. A Network Rail plaque identifies it as Bridge 104.
The footbridge is a popular spot for watching and photographing trains departing the SVR’s station, where it overlooks the diesel depot, carriage shed, turntable, and yard. The crossover link between the SVR and the main line runs underneath.
The bridge carried an 11kV high voltage power cable which has been disconnected and rerouted.
Historically there was a level crossing at this location until a bridge was built from wood in the late 19th century. It was later replaced by the steel one, but it’s uncertain when this happened.
The bridge is often still referred to locally as the ‘wooden bridge’ – will this name continue when the replacement one is fitted?
All traces of the existing bridge have now disappeared, including the central brick pier that was demolished the same night.
The new bridge will be singlespan, extended by five metres, and constructed in ‘weathering steel’ with new abutments at each end and no middle support.
Work is now continuing on the new abutment on the western SVR side. A new pillar will be repositioned 4.5 metres further away from the running lines, enabling permanent vehicle access into the yard, which has always been a problem. Network Rail was responsible for the funding of the footbridge.
A long-term SVR goal is to remove a further section of the embankment and bridge the gap allowing direct access from the station onto the turntable. Anyone who has watched a locomotive accessing the turntable will understand how difficult this is, as it requires considerable shunting manoeuvres having to criss-cross many lines. Plans for this were drawn up some time ago.
Regrettably, the short section of the old bridge was unsalvageable for preservation by the SVR for possible use in bridging the embankment. Work on removing the footbridge was delayed several times but did not affect the arrival, running in and departure of BR Standard 4-6-2 No. 70000 Britannia.
Elsewhere, works to prevent landslips at Sterns between Hampton Loade and Bridgnorth have been completed successfully and SVR is once again fully connected.
Almost 40 yards of sleepers, track and ballast was removed by contractors Walsh and the SVR permanent way teams.
The section was dug out and geotextile membranes fitted, keeping the different layers of soil separate and allowing water to percolate down. A lightweight aggregate was installed, lowering the weight by about 50% to reduce landslips. All ballast, rails and sleepers were reused. Only tamping needs to be done now.
The work at Sterns was funded by the SVR Charitable Trust, with costs in the region of £80,000.