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Trowse Swing Bridge


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 During the last few (rather frustrating) years of my employment, I had to learn quite a lot of "yuppie speak" -  So let me run this up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it.

I have heard a rumour (only a rumour at this stage) that Network Rail are in talks with the BA over the permanent closure of Trowse swing bridge.

This should come as no surprise, since the navigation to the port of Norwich was effectively closed by the brilliant decisions of the planning authorities which approved the Norwich southern bypass bridge at Postwick so, in all practicality, the sliding (not swing) bridge in Norwich has no further purpose.

But consider the implications. If the BA (the navigation authority) allow this, then there would be no further commercial navigation to Norwich and therefore no further need for Reedham swing bridge or even the Breydon bridge. (which was built at enormous cost at the same time as the same planning offices approved the Postwick flyover).

Not only that, but we are well aware that Network Rail are seeking to close level crossings on their lines for safety reasons. In this respect there is a difference between a level crossing (where there is a right of traffic on a highway) and an accommodation crossing, which allows a landowner the right of access across the line. Imagine if there were no longer any access to the yards on Whitlingham lane in Thorpe. Or that the Frostbite Sailing Club and the Norwich Union Rowing Club were cut off from their land, except by water? That is just one of many examples in Broadland. To say nothing of the difference there would be to marshland landscape, if farmers could no longer get access to their land.

There is a serious feeling afoot that the BA are more interested in the National Park motives, such as cycle paths and canoes, rather than those matters which concern the ancient right of navigation on the Broads.

The time may well be near when we need to voice strong objections against such retrograde decisions, before it is too late.

Just for once!!!

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My understanding is Network Rail have to upgrade the line to meet the Norwich in 90 project. The current bridge produces a bottle neck with all trains coming in and out of Norwich from London and Ely going via this bridge.

With the planned increase to 3'trains an hour to London + the new Stansted Airport route and the East Mids trains to Liverpool it requires a duel track. I'm not sure if the current bridge can support this.

The closure of foot crossings are also linked to the Norwich in 90 project.


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53 minutes ago, grendel said:

are there not some ships that would be too large to pass back under the bridge further upstream, the training ship for one

Not too sure that the TS lord nelson will be there for much longer I did hear it was being scrapped as the plating is very thin in places , I can't see BA getting away with allowing network rail to close that bridge for good but then again there's plenty that BA do that beggars belief .

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Dont the bridges above Trowse to the Prince of Wales Road bridge still have the ability to open?

Whats wrong with Norwich in 100 or 110 and save themselves some infrastructure hassle.  Its a wonder people can afford to use the trains anyway. 

This country is so backward in coming forward it becomes obsessed by the most ridiculous of things, what difference does 10 or 20 minutes on a train journey matter, teleportation would be to slow for some people.

If they cant adapt new projects to the existing environment then best to leave alone, however, if they intend to demolish Trowse and install a nice new opening bridge with a bit more clearance under it for us pleasure boaters they will have my full support! 

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I suppose the origins of "right of navigation" was mainly for commercial traffic.

Sadly the Port of Norwich is no longer so ...............

maybe the whole concept of lifting/swing bridges should be revisted.

Perhaps a fixed bridge with height above the water line being set at minimum height to suite the pleasure craft currently on the Broads could be an option.

Sailing craft on the Broads are already equiped to enable passage under bridges.


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The problem that mariners face on the Broads - especially the southern rivers - is a lot of the infrastructure is left over from the need to aid trade and this goes right back from the Hadiscoe New Cut to the fact the points where the railway crosses the rivers we are left with swing bridges.

Imagine if some years ago as 'traditional' commercial interests in Norwich died off, shut down and were slowly converted into riverside apartments, that a couple of factories switched to producing things like Lithium batteries (yeah I know it takes some imagination here but hang on) and over the years these began to go from small scale production to being acquired by a new start up making electric cars and they needed a way to regularly ship out the factory massive amounts of batteries to then be taken to their production plant in Europe.

If this was the case, we would see navigation at the heart of things, bridges would not only work there is a good chance that with the importance of their smooth operation to a large employer and producer of a product that had such a demand, they may even have funding to replace the aging structures.

But no, as the commercial river traffic left what remained was an aging infrastructure of bridges, where maintaining a minimum depth (for example over the channel on Breydon) no longer becomes crucial. As more and more large cruisers then took up residence on the southern rivers they rely on the Network Rail to keep things going so they are able to cruise from Brundall to Breydon, principle is at stake here sure, but if it had not been for the commercial traffic these opening bridges simply would not have been there and there use to this day is still free.

This is a 'time bomb' because one day the likes of Reedham Bridge will finally give up the ghost, and it would be far cheaper to simply put a fixed rail bridge in its place. Compared to many other parts of the country, Norfolk never really has been at the forefront of investment so far as transport goes. It has got what it has got and it is mainly kept going - mind you the dueling of the A11 in entirety was a nice touch.

So what then? You simply cannot have the railway line on approach to Reedham bridge suddenly elevated to giddy new heights - left as a fixed structure at its current height would mean a mean air draft at high water of about 10ft. This would not bother sailing boats, neither hire boats on the rivers but you'd effectively 'land lock' the Brundall Navy.

As a 'regular' user of the London to Norwich line, I like the fact it has some old rolling stock - when trains had some weight and stability and a proper locomotive and because it is not the most popular of places and without the nicest of trains, the fares are cheaper than other lines.  But look once you get to Norwich - the old fleet of two carriage DMU's - it is a sad state of affairs but I guess at least Norfolk and Suffolk has not got the dreaded Pacer 'Railbus'.

There clearly does need major investment, both in rolling stock and infrastructure but I can't help but fear regardless of if Trowse is removed, and replaced with a fixed bridge (or two) that money will talk above principle and navigation and when the day comes that Reedham or Sommerleyton bridges need replacement I'd not place bets on the Broads Authority standing up for the right to navigate.

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4 hours ago, JennyMorgan said:

I believe that it would require an Act of Parliament in order to close the bridges. I trust that the BA will stand firm on this one.

I recon your most probably right with it requiring an act of parliament to allow the bridge to be fixed , therefore I don't believe that BA have the power's to sanction a permanent closure to larger vessels , after all the 2 passenger bridges up upstream are both lifting at huge extra costs and as far as I know they both work , I'm fully aware that BA and Railtrack are best mates especially at the moment but if the BA sanction this proposal I'm sure they will be skating on very thin ice and like Malcolm states it sets a very dangerous precendent for the future .

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