Campaigners say ‘unsafe’ bridge is fit for purpose

Highways England has come under fresh fire for infilling an ‘unsafe’ Cumbrian bridge that is key to two heritage line projects, after a previously unpublished report has revealed that the structure is perfectly sound.

The Historical Railways Estate Group (HRE) has unearthed an engineering assessment made by the now-defunct British Railways Board in 1998, which declares that the structure at Great Musgrave is fit to carry vehicles weighing up to 17 tonnes, and with only minor work could be upgraded to 40 tonnes.

HRE has called for infilling work around the 1862 structure to be halted, because it jeopardises the future connection between the Eden Valley and Stainmore railways. 

It says that repointing might only cost around £15,000 to £20,000, whereas Highways England’s infilling work has a contract value of £124,000.

Calling on Eden District Council to stop the work, HRE Group’s Graeme Bickerdike said: “What’s emerging here is clear evidence that the bridge is being infilled for policy reasons, not because of any engineering or public safety issues.

“Despite this, Highways England has now told Eden District Council that it is acting ‘to prevent an emergency arising’. This represents a disreputable abuse of rights where immediate action is needed to prevent death or injury.”

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  • Ryan Hogg - 24/06/2021 23:20

    Disgusting attitude from Highways England and total lack of inspiration for future use of these structures. Cost of reopening this structure for Eden Valley/Stainmore Lines should be borne by HE when time comes.

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  • Christine clarke - 05/07/2021 09:33

    These beautiful bridges are part of our heritage,the likes of which may never be built again .PLEASE DO NOT DESTROY

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  • M Stovin - 26/07/2021 11:10

    Its always been strange that when you close a railway line, you then can block, build or remove its very existence, yet you never here of a road or canal being built over. Highways England should have provided to the Council written evidence of the safety concerns, which appears to have not occurred. I hope the council take prompt legal action to set a legal precedent before this policy gets out of hand.

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