Here is a more detailed response from Network Rail recevied by the Society last month. The letter clarifies Network Rail’s position in more detail, such as regarding their concerns over the bridges and station building, and why they feel they must go. Whether or not you agree, or what you think should replace them, is up to you, but hopefully you will at least be more informed of their plans. Comments welcome as always.
Dear [Strathbungo Society],
I’d like to reassure you that we are committed to working in partnership with you as part of this project. Going forward I am confident we can work together in a way that ensures positive outcomes for Scotland’s Railway, its passengers, and the Strathbungo Society.
I appreciate that you would like more clarity on aspects of the project, including timescales, and I would like to be able to give you this information. However, the work at Strathbungo is part of a substantial upgrade, which means there are a number of inter-dependencies with other aspects of the scheme. This includes design phases and financial processes, which the project team need to go through before we have the full programme confirmed.
This project is a key part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to support the decarbonisation of Scotland’s Railway by 2035 and we anticipate funding approval for the remaining stages of the project this year, in June 2021. At this stage we will have a more concise understanding of timescales and be able to have a more informed conversation with the Strathbungo Society and the wider community.
A replanting schedule is currently being developed and I hope to have sight of this within the next few months. I can confirm that some replanting will be carried out in the Strathbungo area and as soon as I have more information, I will share it with you.
Up and coming works
Our ground and site investigation works are scheduled for completion in Spring 2021 which allows us to start preparatory works for future overhead line installation. Part of this work may involve ‘piling’, which is where we aim to install steel pile foundations to provide the required support for the overhead lines. The time taken to install each pile can vary considerably given the depths we are installing the foundations to and the varying ground conditions. Unfortunately, this work will potentially be noisier and cause more disturbance than any activity we have so far undertaken, and I would like to sincerely apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.
While we do what we can to minimise noise from our work, where possible, we are limited to what we can do to mitigate against the noise generated by piling, other than to complete the task as safely as possible over the period when we undertake this element. I will outline further details of this work in a letter to the community in the coming weeks once the work timetable is agreed with our contractor.
I note that you raise concerns about the lack of advance notice we provide to our neighbours and can only assure you that we are doing our very best to improve on this. Unfortunately, timescale changes to a project of this size are inevitable and where possible we use letter notifications and social media to update on any changes.
Thank you for highlighting the opportunity for us to use your social media channels as an alert system. It’s important for us to share updates on our works with the community. I am very much aware that our works can be disruptive and how important it is for us to communicate why we are carrying out these works, as well as promoting the wider benefits we hope to achieve. I think this could be a great opportunity to increase the reach of our project updates and something we can absolutely explore in more detail with you. Thank you.
Former station building
I truly appreciate the value the community placed on the former station building and am aware of the petition that was launched last year. I also understand that there was no foresight or community discussion before a letter was distributed to inform you of its removal, and I am deeply sorry for this.
With this being a publicly funded project the costs to repair this building outweigh any return that may potentially be achieved, and we cannot justify the use of public money. I have spoken to our team and can share with you that February 2022 is currently being proposed for the demolition of the former station building. I will continue to keep you informed of any updates regarding this.
I would like to assure you that the decision for this bridge to be replaced hasn’t been taken lightly. Our highly experienced project teams have put in significant efforts to be able to retain the bridge in its current state.
Regarding the refurbishment works in 2019, repair and paint works were carried out due to the poor condition of the structure. The structural steelwork was significantly corroded and there was a defect in the bridge deck. Although we were aware of the future possibilities of height restrictions around electrification, the works carried out were required at that time to keep the footbridge open safely. In addition to this and as we have mentioned previously, without formal commitment to electrification, modifying or designing a new bridge is not something we could have undertaken at the time.
Raising the height of the footbridge to allow for electrification includes significant changes to the current structure and would include the addition of 1.8m high parapets and supporting foundations, which would leave little in the way of its original appearance. Similarly, track lowering does not solve the non-compliance issues associated with the bridge, meaning like the above, the bridge would still require the addition of parapets as well as more structural and foundational support. As a result of this, our planning team has discounted these options as it would leave little in the way of the bridges original appearance.
Given its location, we understand the visual importance of this bridge and therefore believe the community should be significantly involved in the selection of its replacement. Our goal is to have footbridge design proposals to share with you in June 2021, where the community will be asked for their views on a preferred option. I would very much like to share these designs with you in person, however with covid restrictions in place, this is something that we may do virtually. I will share further details on this nearer the time.
There is genuine excitement within Scotland’s Railway about delivering this project and the improvements it will bring to passengers and lineside neighbours. While I fully appreciate the disruptive nature of some of our works, the project outcome will be hugely beneficial with a bio-diversity net gain and longer, greener and quieter trains. I welcome any thoughts around how we can best work together and I’d be more than happy to arrange a call or Microsoft Teams meeting with you to discuss further, given we are unable to meet in person at this time.
I look forward to hearing from you.
151 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5NW
07395 389 925