Network Rail to prototype composite station bridges

Aaron Morby 1 week ago
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Network Rail is looking to switch from steel to composite footbridges at stations in its journey towards net-zero.

Mark Barfield Architects and COWI "Fitura" bridge design
Mark Barfield Architects and COWI "Fitura" bridge design

A concept footbridge, designed by Marks Barfield Architects and COWI, is to be prototyped before deciding whether to adopt new designs.

The ‘Futura’ bridge will demonstrate the benefits that can be gained from using composites in railway station environments for both new build and replacement structures.

Network Rail has partnered with the  National Composites Centre to develop factory-moulded fibre reinforced polymer bridges.

Ian Grimes, principal engineer from Network Rail said: “Our main focus is on putting our passengers first and exploring the full potential of composites as an alternative low-carbon construction material will enable us to continue doing this.

“The quicker installation and the corrosion resistant nature of composites will mean less disruption and impact on passengers when we’re installing and maintaining our assets.”

Richard Oldfield, chief executive of the NCC, said: “Composites offer huge benefits to construction, not least in their ability to be built using modern methods, as well as the cost-effective nature of their construction and installation.

“They are a more sustainable solution, which will contribute to net-zero targets across the industry, and are an intrinsically safer and more aesthetically pleasing option.”

The footbridge demonstrator will adopt modern methods of construction and platform architecture through a standardised design.

Bridges will be designed from a set of adaptable components created in factories with digital controls for simple, rapid precision fit assembly in the station environment.

The project will specifically target key metrics of reduced cost and reduced greenhouse gas emission in line with Construction 2025.

“After two years in the making MBA are delighted to be kicking off this exciting project with COWI and the team at the NCC for Network Rail,” said Ian Crockford, project director at Marks Barfield Architects.

“Our aim from the inception of the project has been to bring the benefits of large scale pre-fabrication using cutting edge innovation through the use of composite materials, while at the same time delivering on Peter Hendy’s aim of delivering high quality design to the rail sector,” he added.

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