Network Rail is looking after its own back
MP for Somerton and Frome David Heath has criticised the way Network Rail has handled the closure of the Ansford rail bridge during an adjournment debate held in the House of Commons last week.
Mr Heath said: "If we were talking about a council – or a Department – every effort would be made to fit things in with local needs. I am afraid to say that there appears to be no evidence Network Rail believes it has any wider responsibility, other than to minimise its costs and do whatever is most convenient to itself.
"We discussed with Network Rail the possibility of night working – indeed, conditions could not have been better for evening or night work over the last few months – but that has not been forthcoming."
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Hammond said that work on the bridge was taking longer than other projects because the bridge was being prepared to carry weights of up to 40 tonnes, rather than the statutory requirement of 24 tonnes.
Responding to Mr Hammond's claims that the work could not be undertaken in two halves, nor a bailey bridge put in place MP for Wells Tessa Munt said: "Surely if the flipping Army can build something in 24 hours, something could be created. If motorway bridges can be prefabricated, formed off site and rolled into place, why cannot something have been done in this case?"
Mr Hammond said a Bailey bridge had not been deemed cost effective. He added: "At the end of these 19 weeks this project will have enabled the bridge to meet modern highway standards to an extent that was not possible before. I hope that my successors will not have to discuss the bridge for another 50 years."