We are pleased to confirm it is intended that the rail-bridge section will be handed over to Network Rail ready for Arriva Trains Wales to start running passenger trains on or before 1st September.
When the railway is handed over, members of the public will need to be aware that there will be a period before the passenger trains start when Network Rail and Arriva Trains Wales will be running test trains which will be operating outside normal timetables. Publicity posters will be distributed along the line reminding members of the public to take care on railway crossings.
We will keep you updated on progress as well as the publicity events that are being organised.
Gwynedd Council and Network Rail are working together to replace the existing Pont Briwet which spans the Afon Dwyryd near Penrhyndeudraeth in Gwynedd. This exciting project, which is scheduled for completion in December 2014, will provide a modern, safe and sustainable structure including a railway, a two-lane road, a cycle/footpath as well as improvements to the narrow approach roads. The £20m project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, administered by the Welsh Government, as well as TraCC, Network Rail and Gwynedd Council.
The 1860’s, grade II listed, timber bridge was part of the Cambrian Coast railway line, which links with the Cambrian Line at Dovey Junction. A single lane, privately owned toll road ran adjacent to the railway. Both were in a very poor state of repair and a 2 tonne weight limit on the road bridge meant that larger vehicles had to take an eight mile detour around Maentwrog.
Main contractors HOCHTIEF (UK) CONSTRUCTION were appointed in February 2013 to carry out this challenging project. The new crossing will ensure that the vital link between North and South Gwynedd is maintained.
Works to date
Work started in spring 2013 clearing the site and constructing the temporary causeway in the river which will act as a base for the heavy construction machinery and cranes. The rail bridge will be completed first, the rail switched over to the new bridge and then the existing bridge demolished before the road bridge is built adjacent to the rail bridge.
In the autumn of 2013 National Grid identified a problem with the adjacent electrical pylon. The road and rail bridge had to be closed for safety reasons which meant that piling for the new rail bridge was delayed whilst a new pylon was erected.
It had been intended that the existing bridge would be used until the rail bridge was completed and then temporary decking placed alongside the railway to provide a single lane access for vehicles. Unfortunately, in November 2013 it was necessary to close the existing railway line following settlement of the old bridge and by January 2014 the road bridge has also deteriorated and had to be closed for safety reasons.
This has meant that all traffic has had to be diverted onto the alternative A496 through Maentwrog. Following safety concerns, a traffic convoy system is now in operation along the narrowest 1.4m stretch of this road. The introduction of the convoy has meant that the temporary decking has had to be omitted in order to ensure that the project is completed on budget. Omitting the temporary decking however will allow the permanent road bridge to be completed earlier than planned in December 2014.
The rail bridge will re-open in summer 2014. The road bridge will remain closed for vehicles and pedestrians until December 2014
About Pont Briwet
Pont Briwet was built in 1860 and was a Grade II listed wooden viaduct. The structure carried a single track rail line and a single lane private toll road over the river between Llandecwyn and Penrhyndeudraeth railway station.
The speed limit for rail traffic was 20mph and there was a 2-tonne weight limit for highway traffic. The imposed weight limit on the old rail and road bridges, as well as the narrow width of the road, restricted the level of road traffic permitted to use the bridge and there was no provision for pedestrians.
Over the years Pont Briwet was partly reconstructed and repaired, however, by the time work on the new scheme started it was reaching the end of its life and was in a very bad state of repair.
Benefits of the new scheme are:
- Free transport links as toll charges will be waived
- Less road congestion with a two way carriageway
- Better transport links for heavier vehicles, i.e. ambulances, coaches or lorries, which now detour 8 miles through the village of Maentwrog
- More alternative transport options for the community and tourists with a new cycle path and footpath that link with the National Coastal Path and Welsh National Cycle Route 8
- A better performing railway as the renewed track will provide an increased linespeed of 40mph
- A more reliable and robust transport link on a new structure that will be less prone to flooding and designed to last for at least another century