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Newport station gets a 500-tonne Christmas present

26 Dec 2021 3 minute read
Artist impression of new footbridge, Newport City Council

Engineers have spent Christmas Day installing a 500-tonne bridge at Newport railway station.

Pontypool-based Pro Steel Engineering has constructed the new pedestrian link between Devon Place and Queensway and Its managing director said staff worked in shifts throughout the day, delaying Christmas festivities to get the job done.

The new bridge spans all four platforms of Newport station, offering pedestrians an alternative to a subway that was only accessible by steps.

Network Rail said took advantage of the railway being closed for Christmas to install the bridge, with one carriageway heading past Newport Railway Station closing for several nights to enable the construction of the new footbridge over the tracks.

The station-side carriageway on Queensway closed from 9pm to 6am on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week then remained closed from 9pm on Christmas Eve and will reopen at 5am on Monday, 27 December once installation is completed.

It will close again from 9pm to 6am on Wednesday 29 December and Thursday 30 December to allow the cranes and equipment to be dismantled and removed.

Managing director Richard Selby said: “To minimise disruption to the public, our staff are having to delay their Christmas lunch to make this happen. It is the sort of high-profile job that we are proud to be associated with, even more so because we are based only five miles up the road.”

With the two day closure Mr Selby said he was confident the job will be finished on time.

Network Rail, which is responsible for the track, said the bridge would improve passengers’ experience.

In a statement, Network Rail said: “Working with Newport Council, a brand-new, fully accessible footbridge will be installed at Newport Railway Station, making travelling easier for passengers by linking Devon Place and Queensway. This work will not impact train services.”

The bridge, which has been in planning since 2014, has been described by Newport Council as a significant feat of engineering and logistics, and will make the crossing safer and more accessible to wheelchair users, pedestrians with prams and cyclists.

Speaking to The Argus in March, Cllr Roger Jeavons, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for city services, said: “This is a complex engineering project that has been in the pipeline for some years but can now proceed following the completion of the electrification of the railway line.

“Many residents will remember the old footbridge, with its steep steps either side, which was replaced by the subway in the 1970s. Subways were a popular way of improving walking routes in the 1970s but the new footbridge will provide a safe and accessible alternative for the 21st century.”

As part of the site preparation work, a steel sculpture by artist Harvey Hood needs to be moved.

Archform was commissioned by Network Rail in collaboration with the Welsh Arts Council.

Network Rail housed the sculpture in temporary storage until plans for a new permanent home can be finalised

“I’m pleased that Network Rail will be finding a new home for Harvey Hood’s sculpture. The railway has played an important role in Newport since the 19th century and this artwork pays tribute to the engineering skills of the Victorian railway pioneers.”

Maura Nelson, associate sponsor at Network Rail, said: “This new footbridge will be a major boost for Newport – providing a safer and much more welcoming route for cyclists, pedestrians and wheelchair users.”

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