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Railways: Bridges

Question for Department for Transport

UIN HL13156, tabled on 9 February 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 8 February (HL12929), what assessment the Highways Agency has made of imposing weight restrictions on historic railway estate structures as an alternative to demolition; and what plans they have to consult local authorities before deciding on demolition.

Answered on

15 February 2021

Pursuant to the answer to HL12929, Highways England’s existing procedures on Historical Railways Estate (HRE) structures are designed to keep the public safe and are underpinned by what is the safest and most appropriate option for a given structure. Local highway authorities have responsibility for applying weight restrictions, closing the roads, or restricting traffic. Approximately 200 of the public road bridges on the HRE managed by Highways England have failed their most recent structural assessment but Local Authorities have not had any restrictions implemented. Therefore, in these cases, Highways England’s planned infilling is the safest and most appropriate option and will maintain access across the structures. Although there are currently no plans to review existing procedures, this will be kept under review.

Highways England enjoys a strong working relationship with local councils, allowing for an open dialogue about local authority responsibilities and the potential future use or transfer of ownership of bridges, and has contacted all local authorities affected to advise them of its plans to see if they have any use for the structures. In addition, it has arranged for seven structures to be transferred to local authorities which aspire to use them for cycle routes.