For a number of weeks vehicle access to the Aldermaston Wharf area has been restricted by Network Rail closing the two local bridges crossing the railway. The line is to be electrified and consequentially many of the bridges need to be raised to provide sufficient clearance for the new overhead cables.
The two affected roads are Station Lane (centre left red arrow) and Basingstoke Road (right red arrow). There is also a lift bridge across the canal on Basingstoke Road. With the two rail crossing bridges closed, the hydraulically operated lift bridge lift bridge across the canal provides the only access to all the residents living in the areas between the railway line and the canal. Essentially they are “cut-off” if the canal bridge fails in the “up” position. Obviously access must be maintained for any potential use by the emergency service. So there is a British Waterways bridge engineer on site every day between dawn and dusk to ensure the bridge can be lowered in event of a breakdown or emergency. I understand Network Rail are paying BW to provide the engineer on site.
All vehicle traffic is being diverted to Frouds Lane (far left red arrow) or Padworth Lane (far right blue arrow).
I couldn’t under why Network Rail had decided to complete the work on both Aldermaston Wharf bridges simultaneously. It appeared more logical to do the work on one of the Aldermaston bridges along with either the bridge at Frouds Lane or Padworth Lane.
I suspect the reason for the closer of both bridges can be seen in the following photos
The superstructure of Station Road bridge has been removed leaving the temporary green walkway.
The Basingstoke Road bridge superstructure has also been removed.
Rail services were cancelled over Easter to allow this work to occur. There are two very large mobile cranes on site. I assume this is to assist in the placement of the new, prefabricated, superstructure (steel or concrete?).
So why did the plan call for both roads to be simultaneously closed rather than completing each bridge separately? All I can conclude is it was logistically easier to have one worksite for almost adjacent bridges, rather than have two separate worksites, both requiring a high level of coordination.
Two other interesting points. The water main to the area cross the rail line using the Basingstoke Road bridge and was only recently replaced. So it looks like the water main will be replaced for a second time! The other point is the bridge across the railway on Padworth Lane. It is almost new having been built only 18 months ago. It now requires lifting as it has insufficient clearance for the new electrification system. Classic “left hand…right hand” planning failure?