Friends of Alton Station
If you would like to help us in our campaign to save Alton station's historic footbridge, here are the things you can do to help:
Write to Network Rail and the local MP, Damian Hinds. We have devised more information to help you on our Letter Templates page.
Donate via our Just Giving crowdfunding-page:
'Like' our Facebook Page
Join &/or volunteer your help to Friends of Alton Station
At the time of writing (early March 2019), the removal of the footbridge has been put off from the original March 2019 date. Friends of Alton Station were invited by Network Rail to provide our own version of how we think the bridge could be removed and are in the process of submitting the engineering data to back this up. We plan to follow this up with a meeting with Network Rail, so that we can establish what they are agreeing to and set down a new programme for the removal of the bridge.
There are some who question why the bridge has to be removed at all. We soon established that making repairs over a working railway is very very expensive, requiring trains to cease whilst work is undertaken and the contractors have to be Network Rail approved. It is therefore desirable to remove the bridge, so the argument has been to do so in a way that safeguards the structure for future restoration.
The main question for us, apart from getting the removal process agreed, is funding. Network Rail say that their demolition budget will not cover the 'extra over' costs incurred by our proposals. This is a matter that we have yet to fully discuss with Network Rail, so it is likely that we will have to raise more funds. We are in the process of starting a Heritage Lottery Fund application with this and the restoration in mind.
The campaign is presently focused on getting our plans for removal of the bridge accepted by Network Rail. Once we know more, including the new removal date and the deal that has been agreed, we can begin to look at what we need the public to do to help us. Please do keep donating funds if you can, as we do need to build up funds for the removal process.
Taking a step back, our careful removal option is not in Network Rail's budget. In July 2017 we presented Network Rail with our first plan for removal using a fabricated steel "cat's cradle" support and a rail-mounted crane to lift it out. We were hoping to lift the centre section to one side for restoration. All the work over the working railway has to be done by Network Rail-approved contractors and they quoted £130,000 for this work as an 'extra over' cost. We have recently established that this sum includes an extra day of closure of the line in case there were a time overrun.
The two locations we had considered for locating the removed section near the station turned out to be unrealistic and, when coupled with the £130k pricetag, we realised that we needed a rethink. We therefore proposed to do without the steel cradle and the rail-mounted crane, and to dismantle the bridge in the car park so that we could store the bridge parts off-site. We told Network Rail about this idea in April 2018, but it is apparent that they ignored us and only now are they considering our ideas. We don't believe that our proposal will cost any extra to do, but after two meetings with Network Rail in 2018, we were required to commission and fund the engineering data to prove our case.
We have been extremely patient over the five years since we first started negotiations with Network Rail, but it has been hard work getting support for our project. It would appear that Network Rail may be having a change of heart, which is a good thing, and one can only hope that this will lead to a successful outcome.
If you can, please donate money and/or write to your MP and the Chief Executive of Network Rail, Andrew Haines (see our Letter Templates page for information).