On September 22nd Network Rail held a Public Information Event in the Scout Hut.
As a visitor pointed out it hadn’t been widely publicised, only streets neighbouring the station had learnt of it and what’s more it was being held in a ‘tucked-away’ venue at a time, 3.30pm when a lot of people couldn’t go! However, if you had gone along you’d have found knowledgeable Network Rail engineers to answer your questions. ‘Why did it collapse?’ was the commonest but the answer given distinctly guarded: an official enquiry hadn’t yet pronounced. However, we were told that two old service pipes ran along Grove Lane; one was gas and the other water. Old pipes? Possible leaks? The official enquiry will tell all… eventually.
Display-boards with their sheets of diagrams were crucial to understanding what was going on, or going to go on. Visitors studied them and learnt about debris-removal (200 tons), buttressties, parapet heights, foundations, concrete steps and having to do a lot of the work at night when the line was quieter.
There was a time line too. Phase 1, Bridge Stabilisation, had finished. Week 1 of Phase 2 was to start on Sept 26th and by the end of Week 12, in Jan 2017, the bridge should have been completely repaired and the road reopened. This newly strengthened bridge will be strong enough to last at least another 60 years, and although it will look very similar to the one that collapsed, certainly won’t.