Pupils on the right track with safety project

By Jake Chown  
Wednesday 18th November 2015 2:25 pm
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THE local community gathered in Magor to celebrate Whitewall footbridge becoming the first new railway bridge to open in south Wales as part of Network Rail’s electrification of the south Wales mainline.

Year 4 pupils from Magor Primary School were the first members of the public to walk across the new and improved Whitewall footbridge, and used the visit as an opportunity to raise awareness of railway safety as part of a Network Rail picture competition.

First prize was awarded to Samuel McDonald, with Jacob Williams coming second and Ffion Davies third. The winning artwork will be used on Network Rail sites across Monmouthshire.

The children were joined by staff from Network Rail, local councillors from Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) and Magor Community Council, as well as contractors Alun Griffiths for the official opening of the bridge.

Work began to replace Whitewall footbridge began in June after it was identified as being too low to accommodate the overhead lines which will power the electric trains.

Electrification will provide faster, greener, quieter and more reliable journeys for tens of thousands of passengers every day. It will also help stimulate economic growth by better connecting towns and cities in south Wales and beyond.

Although Whitewall does not carry an official public right of way, Network Rail reconstructed the bridge after discussions with MCC and the local community revealed it was regularly used by children walking to school. It is also used on weekly school visits to the nearby Magor marshlands, with the only alternative being walking along a road with no footpath which is frequently used by large agricultural vehicles.

Councillor Bryan Jones, cabinet member for transport at MCC, cut the ribbon to officially open the bridge. He said: "This is an important milestone for Monmouthshire and we are pleased to be one step closer to reaping the benefits of an electrified railway. 

“I was thrilled to see that Network Rail’s two key partners on the scheme: Alun Griffiths Contractors and Cass Hayward Designers.

“They are both Monmouthshire based organisations and it’s clear to see that the talent exhibited by these local organisations has resulted in a fine job on this new structure. 

“It has been a pleasure working with Network Rail on this scheme and we look forward to working with them over the coming years to create a better railway for Monmouthshire and indeed the wider region of south Wales."

Andrew Griffiths, development manager for Network Rail Wales, said: “Electrification will mean less noise and pollution for those who live close to the railway line in and around Monmouthshire. The increasing numbers of passengers using the railway will also benefit from more frequent, faster, quieter services once this programme of work is completed as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan.

“In order to prepare the railway for the overhead lines which will power electric trains, we reconstructed Whitewall footbridge with a new and improved structure.

“We’d like to thank the local community for their support during the work and the pupils from Magor Primary School for their excellent posters which will be used across our sites in Monmouthshire to remind people about how to be safe near the railway.”

The electrification project is taking a phased approach to minimise disruption to communities, with work moving from east to west. The project is being carefully planned so that work is staggered to eliminate the chances of neighbouring bridges being closed at the same time.

Members of the public who would like further information can call Network Rail’s 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41 or email [email protected].

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