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News Archive > General > Plan to dismantle and remove historic rail bridge

Plan to dismantle and remove historic rail bridge

By Natasha Swift 16th October 2013

Plan to dismantle and remove historic rail bridge

THE HISTORIC footbridge at St Austell Railway Station is set to be dismantled as part of a multi-million pound project to improve access to the “key public transport link” to the town.
Network Rail has submitted an application for listed building consent to remove and relocate the 19th century footbridge at the station on High Cross Street.  
Nearly seven years ago plans to upgrade the facilities as part of a major regeneration scheme were given the go-ahead.
As part of the works approved in 2006, a new Access for All (AfA) footbridge was proposed and approved, but never implemented.  
The train and bus station were partially developed, but financial difficulties brought the construction works, which would have transformed the south side of the station and the entrance to the north platform, to a standstill in 2008.
Existing pedestrian access arrangements at the station do not comply with the Equality Act 2010 as the only way across the railway line is via the existing stepped bridge.
Currently wheelchair users must take a taxi via the road bridge to move between the two platforms, which Network Rail said was “unacceptable”.
Earlier this year plans to install the pedestrian footbridge and passenger lift were given the green light.
Now Network Rail is seeking permission to take apart the Grade II listed footbridge and reuse it at another site.
In its application Network Rail said an expression of serious intent had been received to relocate the footbridge for reuse at a new station on a heritage railway.
It said the funding currently available for improvements to the station will only allow for either the repair and long term maintenance of the existing bridge or the construction of the AfA bridge which is guaranteed to be maintenance-free for the next 25 years, but not both.
The application states that if the funding is not used by March it will be withdrawn, adding: “The opportunity would be lost to improve access to a key public transport link in St Austell, utilised by both residents and tourists to the area.
“In addition the condition of the existing footbridge would continue to deteriorate. The full repair and refurbishment works required to fully restore the structure cannot be completed to meet the March 2014 deadline for funding.
“Therefore the relocation of the existing bridge is considered the preferred option to safeguard its conservation.”
Network Rail said it wanted to remove the existing footbridge for reuse by a railway heritage group, which would allow the bridge to be restored at a new location to ensure the long-term conservation of the structure.
The railway station is thought to have been constructed around 1877 and built for Great Western Rail who took over this section of the Cornwall railways in 1877.
The station and footbridge became Grade II listed in 1996.
In 1999, listed building consent was granted to demolish the downside station building to create a more modern station.
The development will see a new pedestrian footbridge installed to the west of the station which it is hoped will significantly improve access for railway users and members of the public crossing the route.
The proposals will also see passenger lift towers — accommodating up to 12 people at a time — installed to provide access to each platform.
Staircases will also be sited to the northern and southern ends of the footbridge and a new bridge.
The step-free access has been designed not only to help disabled travellers but elderly people, those with children, heavy luggage and shopping.
A decision on the application is expected to be made by November 14.

By Natasha Swift 16th October 2013

Richard Baker 25th July 2017 17:12
I visited St Austell station in July 2016 and again this week and was appalled to find that the grade II listed footbridge remains in such a sorry state. What is the point of a listing if those responsible for its upkeep do nothing? Presumably the idea is to follow the usual pattern and allow the bridge to deteriorate until there´s an excuse to pull it down. What is being done to prevent this happening?
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