Motorists face misery as vital route shuts for bridge repairs


A vital route into the centre of Biggleswade will be shut for four months - because of complications surrounding the closure of the line to complete the work.

The news comes two weeks after initial plans to close the railway bridge on the High Street caused outrage on our Facebook page.

At a Biggleswade Town Council meeting on Tuesday, an update on the situation was given by Councillor Madeline Russell.

She said: “The bad news is Central Beds Council are saying the bridge will be closed from December 13 so the impact on business in the town will be worst because the shops will lose the two week run up to Christmas as well as the January sales.

“They can’t give a defnite date but the work is likely to end in the middle of April. The reason for all this is they can’t get possession from Network Rail except for the two days on Christmas Day and Boxing Day when trains don’t run.

“They are not going to be allowed possession after that until Easter.

“There is no confirmed date yet.”

However, Network Rail strongly refute the claims and say that possession of the railway line doesn’t rely on bank holidays.

A spokesperson said: “We are working with Central Beds Council as they plan to replace Stratton Street Bridge, which crosses over the East Coast Main Line.

“The authority has requested the closure of the railway at certain times in order to carry out work during different stages of the project, and we have worked with them to accommodate their request and to keep both those working on the project, members of the public and passengers safe throughout.”

After attending a joint committee meeting with Central Beds, Biggleswade representatives came away less than impressed.

Cllr Russell added: “We are looking at what pressure we can put on.

“We would like damages for the town because of the lengthy bridge closure.”

“We’ve looked at various diversions but it was clear the engineers didn’t know much about Biggleswade on the ground.

“They’re hoping the Eastern Relief Road will be open to alleviate some traffic and there will be signage on the A1 highlighting the closure of the railway bridge.”

The Biggleswade Chronicle contacted Central Beds to get an update on the bridge but they were unable to expand on their comments from two weeks ago.

A spokesperson said: “Due to following a political protocol there isn’t any further information to provide at this point. We will however keep residents updated with news as it happens via our dedicated webpage,”

On this website Central Beds do outline the need for the bridge to be repaired and the reasons why.

A statement says: “If the railway bridge continues to be treated with short-term solutions, the ultimate capacity of the bridge will be affected either by causing a serious accident or requiring work to take place on the carriageway to impose weight or width restrictions.

“This would affect traffic movements through and around Biggleswade, which could affect the economic prosperity of the town.

“It has been advised that the bridge will be unsuitable for continued use should the bridge not be repaired amid report of concrete falling onto the track.”

On the concerns about a key route into Biggleswade being cut off they said: “We are reviewing the diversion routes which will need to be put in place to ensure they are suitable for pedestrians and the different vehicles which use the railway bridge.”

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