A new date has been confirmed for the Gipsy Patch Lane bridge replacement work as part of the Cribbs Patchway metrobus extension (CPME).
The bridge move on Gipsy Patch Lane was due to take place over the Easter period (11 to 20 April 2020) but because of coronavirus (COVID-19) and government guidance concerning social distancing, Network Rail postponed the work along with a number of other schemes across the wider rail network.
Since this time Network Rail has continued to work hard behind the scenes with its stakeholders, contractor and supply chain to identify a new date when the Gipsy Patch Lane railway bridge can be manoeuvred into position.
The bridge move on Gipsy Patch Lane will now take place between Saturday 24 October and the early hours of Saturday 7 November 2020 and will take approximately 13 days to complete.
The 13 days take into consideration the extra time needed to carry out work whilst observing the current government guidelines on coronavirus and social distancing. Network Rail are also hoping to be able to complete some of the tasks on the railway that previously would have been carried out in separate follow up shifts.
To enable the bridge replacement, which is a significant piece of engineering work, the rail line must be closed to trains for a number of days and arranging this has been a complex process that needed to take into account a range of factors, including:
• the latest coronavirus government guidance
• the availability of a wide range of critical equipment, machinery and people, including the self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) units that will pick up and move the new bridge into position
• securing local accommodation for the 150 specialist railway engineering staff that will be working on the bridge replacement
• co-ordination with other railway projects requiring rail line closures elsewhere on the national rail network
• consultation with train operating companies and freight operating companies because a closure impacts on train services, passengers and freight movements.
Cabinet Member for Transport Cllr Steve Reade said: “We are pleased to announce these new dates for the railway bridge move on Gipsy Patch Lane. We have all watched the project progress over the last 12 months and this will be a positive step towards reaching our goal of completing such an important transport project for the area.
“CPME is a key part of our ambition to keep South Gloucestershire moving. It will bring with it many benefits including improved cycling and pedestrian facilities, a reduction in traffic and congestion, improved traffic flow on Gipsy Patch Lane and the provision of a high quality express bus service that will create a direct route between Bristol Parkway railway station, Stoke Gifford, the Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood and The Mall shopping centre.
“We understand these new dates, particularly the length of closure for Gipsy Patch Lane, will bring with them an extended period of disruption. We sincerely apologise for this and would like to take this opportunity to thank the local community for their continued patience and understanding.”
These dates and timeframes may be subject to further change, for example if COVID-19 emergency restrictions had to be reimposed and safe working was not possible, and we will continue to keep the community up to date.
Network Rail, and its contractors Alun Griffiths, remain on site at Gipsy Patch Lane undertaking as much work as they can prior to the bridge move whilst complying with government guidelines. Network Rail are also investigating whether some work that was not due to be carried out until after the new bridge is in place can be completed sooner.
Gipsy Patch Lane and Station Road junction
Gipsy Patch Lane and the junction with Station Road need to remain closed until after the bridge move is complete and the road beneath the bridge has been lowered. The road and junction are expected to remain closed to vehicles until approximately July 2021.
This new timeframe takes into consideration the extra time needed to carry out work whilst observing the current government guidelines on Coronavirus and social distancing.
It is not possible to reopen the road fully to all road users prior to the bridge move because of the extent of work that has already been completed. The road closure also needs to remain in place whilst Network Rail and Alun Griffiths continue with preparatory and highways work, such as the creation of the SPMT roadway.
A footpath, suitable for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists only, has been reopened under the railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane and will remain open until further notice. The footpath is narrow and pedestrians are advised to take extra care should they need to use it.
However, the footpath will need to close when the bridge move takes place in the autumn. When this happens the free shuttle bus service will be reinstated for those pedestrians needing to make essential journeys either side of Gipsy Patch Lane. We will provide advance notice to the community when the footpath needs to close.
Wider CPME project
The CPME is a £57 million investment to reduce congestion and improve journey times for all road users in your area by providing a new quick, reliable public transport system.
The council remains committed to this important transport project which will provide a direct route between Bristol Parkway railway station, Stoke Gifford, the Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood, The Mall shopping centre and will link with the wider metrobus network.
The new date for the bridge move will have implications for the wider CPME project. We are currently looking at the project’s programme and we will update the community when we have more information.
We will continue to keep the community up to date via social media and our website. Any updates will be posted on social media via www.facebook.com/sgloscpme and the project webpage at www.southglos.gov.uk/cpmetrobus. We would also encourage people to sign up to our project newsletter, which can be done by visiting our webpage.
People with queries concerning the construction work currently taking place on Gipsy Patch Lane should call the Network Rail 24-hour helpline on 03457 11 41 41.