Ironbridge Power Station: Fruitful bridge repair talks ahead of demolition
Fruitful talks are underway between railway chiefs and the owners of Ironbridge Power Station over the cost of repairs to a bridge.
The Harworth Group, which owns the Buildwas site, wants to create a settlement comprising 1,000 homes, business units, leisure facilities, a school, and a park and ride scheme.
At the heart of the re-development is the reopening of the railway line which crosses the River Severn via the Edward Albert Bridge, and the creation of a passenger service.
The developer hopes to transport the demolition and minerals due to be extracted site by rail.
However, before the cooling towers can come down the grade II listed bridge which is subject to weight restrictions requires strengthening work.
Harworth's associate director Iain Thomson said: "We have already held fruitful early discussions with Network Rail on the engineering required to make this happen and its likely total cost.
"Harworth remains on track to submit its outline planning application for the entire development in late autumn."
"We’ve been clear from the moment we bought the redevelopment. At our most recent public consultation in May, we explained that the use of the railway was essential in the short-term to move large amounts of pulverised fuel ash and sand and gravel to help create future development platforms to build on.
"Longer term we want to bring in passenger services to support the long-term sustainability of the redeveloped site and to aid local efforts to improve tourism into Ironbridge."
Network Rail spokesman Chris Halpin said: “Strengthening work is needed on the Albert Edward Bridge which carries the railway over the River Severn into Ironbridge Power Station which closed in 2015.
"Further surveys are being carried out to determine what needs to be done to allow freight trains to use the bridge during and after the power station’s proposed redevelopment. Our meetings with the developer and local groups are ongoing about the future use of the railway in the area,” Mr Thomson said.
The Ironbridge railway line closed to passenger services in 1963 – before the infamous Beeching cuts – but continued to serve the power station until its closure in November 2015.
Passenger services to nearby Coalbrookdale briefly resumed mid 1979 to mark the Iron Bridge bicentenary, and a one-off steam service operated by heritage operator Vintage Trains used the line last month.
There are also proposals to extend the Telford Steam Railway track to Buildwas as part of the heritage attraction's own expansion programme, working in partnership with Harworth and the authorities on opportunities for new public transport links for visitors.
The 200-ft bridge named after Edward VII was designed by engineer John Flower and built in 1864. It carried the line from Coalbrookdale and Lightmoor Junction across the river near Buildwas.
It was originally built to carry the Wenlock, Craven Arms and Lightmoor Extension Railway of the Wellington and Severn Junction Railway across the river. During the power station years it carried coal trains between the site and Lightmoor Junction.
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