We are very pleased to confirm that following the completion of Phase I of the Pont Briwet project, engineering trains are now running across the new bridge and on the Cambrian Coast line between Harlech and Pwllheli.
Passenger trains will start running on Monday 1st September and timetable information can be found at http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/Timetables/
However, we anticipate that there will be a delay in opening the road bridge as Hochtief UK, the contractors, have reported that there is still a significant amount of work to complete on site.
In March it was said that not building a temporary road would enable contractors to open the road earlier than originally anticipated, so this news comes a blow to us.
The contractors are now encountering problems with the transfer of the water main and other services to the new rail bridge. This must be completed before the old bridge can be demolished and work starts on the new road bridge.
It is difficult to give an exact date of when the road bridge will be ready to carry traffic, until the contractors are able to give firm dates for when the demolition will be completed, but we anticipate that will be in June 2015, which is the original date for opening the road bridge.
We have always acknowledged that this is a complex engineering project and accept that problems will be encountered which cause delays, but we know how disappointing it is for the local communities to have to travel on the alternative route for longer than was anticipated.
We apologise that there will be an additional few months until people can take advantage of the new road bridge and we would thank them for their patience while building work is being finished.
Warning notices have been erected on railway crossings and Network Rail have asked us to circulate the safety notice below.
Railway safety reminder as trains to begin running again between Harlech and Pwllheli
Network Rail is reminding people of the risks of trespassing on the railway, as the Cambrian line between Harlech and Pwllheli reopens to engineering trains from Monday 18 August, followed shortly by passenger services.
The reopening of the line follows the successful rebuilding of Pont Briwet over the Afon Dwyryd near Llandecwyn. Major repairs to the Cambrian line were also needed following severe storm damage in December 2013.
Nick Chrzanowski, community safety manager at Network Rail, said: “Local people have been extremely patient while this vital work has been carried out at Pont Briwet, however we know that some people have been taking shortcuts across the railway while it has been closed.
“Trespass on the railway or misuse of level crossings is extremely dangerous as well as being a serious criminal offence. We want everyone to stay safe and stay off the tracks and would ask for local people’s help in passing on this message, especially to young people.”
“I would like to re-emphasise that the previous timetable in place before the line was closed WILL NOT APPLY when the line is re-opened, as not only will the service be changing due to the works that have been completed but there will be additional engineering and test trains running on this line not listed on the timetable”.
There are a range of safety resources available from the rail industry, via the Rail Life campaign website and Tumblr feed (www.rail-life.co.uk) or via www.networkrail.co.uk/safety, which include safety education resources and information on safe use of level crossings
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 now scheduled for completion in June 2015, 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. The Contractors said that omitting the temporary decking would allow the permanent road bridge to be completed earlier than planned in December 2014.
The rail bridge will re-open 1st of September 2014. The road bridge will remain closed for vehicles and pedestrians until June 2015.
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