PROGRESS TOWARDS OUR GOAL
As the project progresses we shall keep you up-to-date on this page. Please check back from time-to-time, or follow us on Facebook and get regular updates.
We have some more great news! We are thrilled to be able to announce that we have been awarded a significant grant from the Community Rail Development Fund (CRDF), which Community Rail Network administers on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT). Our application was organised and submitted on our behalf by the Severnside Community Rail Partnership. We would like to thank Severnside for helping us to make sure that everything was done correctly. The CRDF grant is £22,000; this will part fund the next stage of the design, to achieve Agreement in Principle (AiP) under the new Network Rail project process PACE (Project Acceleration in a Controlled Environment).To put this next stage of design work into context, the design stages which we have achieved so far include a feasibility study, a technical review of the site including a site survey of underground services, an engineering report on the condition of the footbridge to confirm its ability to take the load of the new canopy, together with discussion with Network Rail on the materials to be used to meet their stringent safety and maintenance requirements. All this work enabled the production of a Design & Access Statement which formed the core of our application to Wiltshire Council for Planning Permission which was granted in Q1 2022. The next stage of work, which the CRDF grant has now part funded, will be to take the design to a sufficient level of detail which will demonstrate that the project will be constructed to the standards required by Network Rail, enabling them to grant Approval in Principle. Once Approval in Principle has been granted, the final design stage will follow - the production of an approved ready for construction design which will enable us to go out to tender and confirm a price for fabrication and installation. A condition of the CRDF grant is that is must be spent and this element of the design project be completed by the end of March 2023, Therefore, in coordination with our sponsor at Network Rail, we are now moving as fast as possible to put together a Basic Asset Protection Agreement (BAPA) for signature, and to brief our architects, Oxford Architects, to begin design work once we have received the Requirements Document from Network Rail. This is expected before the end of September.
We thank the CRDF for this significant boost to our project. We would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge past financial assistance from GWR's Customer and Communities Improvement Fund (CCIF), the significant donations from local supporters, and the continuing management support from Network Rail, which have all contributed to keeping the momentum going to reinstall the canopy on our Victorian footbridge, and thus reinstating the original Grade 2 listed Brunel station ensemble.
8 April 2022:
We have some great news. Our planning application, which provided a recommended outline using steel and timber, has been approved! Our project will now move into the detailed design phase. At the end of this phase, once the completed design has been approved by Network Rail, we will be able to go out to tender. While the reinstatement of this sort of canopy has been done many times now on heritage railways, it is notable that this will be the first time that such an undertaking has been done on the live, operational national railway network. As a result, this project will require detailed project management and communications with both Network Rail and GWR. Oxford Architects, who put together the outline design, will now complete the detail design for us. Oxford Architects are Network Rail approved architects and have over many years delivered a large number of listed and historically interesting station projects and have work with the Railway Heritage Trust.
Significant progress has been made recently with our application for Planning Permission to install the canopy. We made lengthy, detailed investigations in order to find the correct materials to be used as we want to make it as close as possible to the original. This has involved much liaison with consultants, Network Rail and our architects. With the COVID-19 situation, everything has taken longer than we would have liked. The roof of the canopy was originally constructed of corrugated iron. We thought it would be straightforward to use modern corrugated steel but we couldn't find a company in the UK who could press corrugated steel into the correct shape. However, we finally found a steel company in Italy who can create the necessary profile using old-fashioned heritage steel pressing techniques.
Another problem was how to re-create the original timber tongue and groove side panels on the footbridge stairs. These had been replaced in the 1970s by using point rodding as upright stanchions but Network Rail will not accept ordinary timber due to its relatively short life. We found a type of wood treated to give it an extended life of up to 50 years and when painted with fire resistant paint it can be used for the stair side panels and the daggerboards, the pointed decorative wood details which project down from the canopy.
The consultation period for our application runs until the 11th of February 2022. The deadline for the decision is the 2nd of March. Once Planning Permission has be granted, we will move on to complete the final stages of the design. At that point, we will be able to go to tender, and once we have submissions in response, we will know the costs of fabrication and installation.
We’ve reached another important milestone with the submission by our architects Oxford Architects of a Listed Building Consent Application to Wiltshire Council Planning Department. The associated Design & Access Statement can be found here.
A key aspect of our latest design thinking is that we now propose the use of GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) for the new canopy. This is as a result of extensive research by our engineering consultant David Redfern and Oxford Architects which has confirmed that we cannot now get corrugated steel moulded into precisely the very tight curve at the ridge to match the original. The old GWR were able to do this by making their own standard canopies in bulk, whereas we would now have to get a one-off specially tooled up for us at great cost.
At the same time, detailed investigations have shown how very good the latest GRP methodology is in terms of visual authenticity, (as well as durability and maintainability). The new canopy will be moulded to look exactly like the original corrugated metal. GRP is used extensively by Network Rail when replacing life-expired station canopies and associated wooden dagger boards, which has proved that GRP can replicate exactly the original whilst needing little or no maintenance. We continue to work closely with the Railway Heritage Trust as we have throughout the project, and they have confirmed that they would "support the use of GRP/FRP if it's done well”. The RHT commissioned a report into the use of GRP/FRP for canopy fascias and they "encourage its use where appropriate”, so we will be studying this report closely.
On a further piece of news, after further discussions with Network Rail about what would need to be done to enable us to install the new canopy without interfering with the live railway or passengers crossing the footbridge, Network Rail have decided to conduct a new structural survey of the footbridge to see if they feel they will need to do any work on it in the medium term. This would be with a view to a consideration that if they decide they do need to do work, then perhaps this could be planned to coincide with getting the canopy back on. This would particularly help us if this meant that Network Rail would bear the cost of organising alternative walking routes for the duration of the work. We are very grateful to Network Rail for this helpful suggestion and we await the outcome of the survey with interest.
Even though the country may be in lock-down, we are continuing to make progress.
At the end of February our architects Oxford Architects completed the first stage of the replacement canopy design and submitted a formal Report in the GRIP 3 format required by GWR and Network Rail. As a result GWR were able to release the second tranche of their generous grant from their Customer and Communities Improvement Fund.
(The GRIP Report formats are the Network Rail methodology for managing third party projects on the national network. GRIP stands for Governance for Railway Investment Projects).
The GRIP 3 Report has also been submitted to Network Rail and the Railway Heritage Trust, so that all our key stakeholders are fully up to date with progress. Our mentor at Network Rail subsequently convened a telephone conference meeting between ourselves and the Network Rail Asset Protection Project Manager to review the report and decide on next steps. As a result of a very useful discussion, Network Rail were able to confirm their continued support, and it was agreed that we should plan to move on to the next design stages, which will complete the design, prepare technical documentation and send invitations to tender to contractors. (In the GRIP terminology this will be GRIP 4 & 5). But before we do that, Network Rail will hold internal discussions to agree what their costs are likely to be for their management time to assess and approve the plans.
As of November 2019:
We are a registered charity.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester has agreed to be our Patron.
Conducted four years of investigative work, including acquiring a copy of the original design drawings for the canopy
Engaged an experienced independent engineering consultant with wide-ranging railway experience.
Had visits and inspections by Network Rail engineers and fabrication engineers.
Commissioned an independent professional engineering report by a Network Rail approved company into the suitability of the bridge to take a new canopy. We are happy to report, the bridge passed the test with flying colours!
We are working with Network Rail, who own the footbridge:
The first window of opportunity for the installation of the canopy is 2021.
We are looking into entering a service agreement with them.
A topographical survey was completed in early November.
We don't yet know the final total of the project costs but:
Producing the design and going to tender will cost between £35,000 and £40,000. This includes Network Rail management time.
The fabrication and installation costs are yet to be determined.
Funds to date:
- The Great Western Railway Customer and Communities Improvement Fund has generously committed £15,000 towards the first stage of the design. THANK YOU!
- Another £20,000 has been raised including donations from a private individual and Bradford on Avon Secret Gardens. THANK YOU!
- The Railway Heritage Trust have committed, in principle, to cover 40% of the fabrication and installation costs once the design is approved.