Shalford Parish Council met with representatives of Network Rail, Anne Milton MP’s office, Surrey County Council and Guildford Borough Council on Friday 15th July to discuss the rebuilding of the Shalford footbridge.
The meeting was useful in establishing an accurate picture of Network Rail’s procedures with regard to funding this project and their intentions with regard to rebuilding the bridge. Unfortunately they have not committed to any specific timetable for work on the bridge but did clarify the inaccurate proposals that had been published in a letter at the start of this year.
Network Rail is currently working on the design of the bridge which is likely to cost in excess of £500K and has a preliminary timetable for completion in the 2017/18 financial year. However the first priority of Network Rail is to keep the track and stations safe and working for passengers of the railway and therefore funding will only be available once they had met these commitments. It will be necessary for Network Rail to divert funds from other areas of work as there is nothing within their five year budget to cover such work. They are currently undergoing a budget review which will be completed in two months time. They have agreed to provide an update at that time.
Shalford Parish Council and Anne Milton’s office are continuing to exert pressure on Network Rail and urging both Surrey County Council and Guildford Borough Council to do the same.
A copy of the statement provided by Network Rail following the meeting is included below:
Shalford footbridge: Summary of meeting on Friday 15 July 2016*
Network Rail organised a meeting on Friday 15 July at Shalford station to discuss the pedestrian footbridge that was damaged at the station, and to update on the internal process currently being undertaken to enable the structure to be repaired. The meeting was attended by: Sarah Coleby (Office of Anne Milton MP); Cllr George Johnson (Shalford Division, Surrey County Council); Nuala Livesey (Clerk, Shalford Parish Council); Cllr Mike Parsons (Shalford Ward, Guildford Borough Council); as well as a number of local residents. In attendance from Network Rail were the Route Asset Manager, Project Manager, Senior Asset Engineer, Public Affairs Manager (Wessex) and Communities Executive.
The current situation regarding the footbridge is as follows. The cost to repair the footbridge is greater than was originally forecast and Network Rail is currently investigating sources of internal funding to pay for the work. This was stated in a letter from Network Rail to Anne Milton MP sent on 28 June 2016. The total cost of the repair work is expected to be more than £500k. It will be established at the next financial reforecast for Network Rail’s Wessex Route, to take place in two months’ time, a) where funding can be obtained from and b) when it will be available to pay for the work. It was stated at the meeting on 15 July that we will bring the footbridge back into use in the financial year from April 2017 to April 2018 (please continue to be aware that any unexpected issues that arise on the Wessex Route could affect the timetable for works). The design work is expected to take up to 5 months, with construction dates subject to access arrangements for the railway line, and a final timetable will be provided to local residents at a future community consultation event hosted by Network Rail (details to be confirmed).
As background, Network Rail receives funding from the Government for 5 year periods and money is allocated within this time to repair work on the Wessex Route that is safety critical for the public and railway staff. This has meant funding has not been available to pay to repair the footbridge at Shalford station and the process has unfortunately been delayed. Although the structure was damaged by a Network Rail contractor the insurance arrangement means that Network Rail must first pay the cost of the work before it can claim the monies back. This means funding needs to be available in the first instance to pay for the work.
Updates on the above will be provided whenever there is any news.
*Nb. This note is up to date as of Thursday 21 July, 2016; it has been agreed by the Project Manager and Route Asset Manager for Network Rail’s Wessex Route.