Network Rail: Dawlish Station to get new plastic footbridge

Work is due to start this month on the new footbridge for Dawlish railway station as part of a £1m improvement project. Contractors BAM Nuttall intend to begin preparatory works this month. The existing footbridge will be removed on 7 October and the new footbridge will be installed on 14 October. Completion for the whole scheme is expected to be end-November 2012.

Network Rail’s route asset manager for buildings, Simon Gyde said: “The renewal of Dawlish Station footbridge is driven by the asset condition and safety. The existing footbridge was last reconstructed in 1937, using steel girders taken from Park Royal Station.

“Despite numerous repair schemes being carried out, the bridge suffers from the harsh marine environment, and now has significant areas of corrosion to the main girders and roof structure with poor protective paintwork and rotten timber decking.”

The footbridge will be the second fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) footbridge to be installed on the Western Route. The first was at St Austell in Cornwall in October 2007.

Plastic is being used because the steelwork of the existing footbridge has been badly corroded by the harsh marine weather conditions. The timber decking has rotted and the protective paintwork has broken down.


The plastic components are being supplied by Pipex Ltd, the Plymouth-based structural composites manufacturer, replicating the style of the original steel bridge at the grade 2 listed station.

Network Rail’s engineers considered a number of alternatives, including a complete refurbishment and strengthening scheme using traditional materials, before deciding to completely replace the existing footbridge with a plastic FRP structure.

Not only will the manufactured mouldings replicate the existing style of the original steel bridge - even down to plastic rivet heads - but it will be better able to withstand the harsh marine environment along the Dawlish seafront.

When finished, the footbridge will be painted Admiral Gray in keeping with the rest of the station. The new structure will be lighter and easier to install and will require considerably less maintenance than the footbridge it replaces.

While the work is taking place, a footbridge diversion will be in operation from the town end of the railway station. Local residents, businesses and Dawlish Town Council will be kept informed of the plans throughout the work.
The footbridge diversion will use the subway and the ramp leading to platform 2. If there is severe weather, contingency plans will be put in place to lead passengers over the Barrow level crossing.