Building a multi-million pound Access for All bridge is no bag of sweets but the modular design allows many options and better maintainability, says AATi’s David Bisset.
The best Access For All (AFA) bridge to date, after three years of design iteration and improvement, was in operation before Christmas much to the delight of passengers and staff at the busy Anglia Region station.
Discerning sceptics, probably from the top academic University brains in the UK, are now nowhere to be seen, silenced by the genius of modular design by Network Rail, detailed design and production by WEC, and safety stairway suppliers AATI Ltd, who clad mass-transit stairways from the Tube to the forthcoming London Cable Car.
This is the first AFA bridge to be manufactured in accordance with the new ‘Network Rail STN402-Modular Stations–Footbridges’ approved guidelines. This modular design enables the swift erection and replacement of the structure, with the potential ability to build, for instance, a replacement walkway section (spanning the tracks) off site, and swap out old for new, with a like-for-like unit during a single possession, thus causing minimal disruption to passengers.
The new Network Rail specification also allows for a variety of fitting-out details ranging from a non-enclosed structure with no roof, to one that is partially enclosed with a roof but open mesh on the top half of the sides, right through to the highest specification as a fully glazed structure with an internal suspended ceiling system.
John Clements, senior project manager at WEC Ltd responsible for production and installation of the Cambridge AFA structure said, “Obviously Cambridge fell into the top-end specification category, setting a whole raft of design complications that the team worked it very hard, and successfully, to engineer into practical solutions.”
Equally, AATi, who have a tremendous cost/benefit offering over lighter stairway safety products, have contributed much to the detailed design of this bridge system. With full-step coverage, the cast-in AATI brand features and attention to detailed design, AATi is specified in the AFA Network Rail Design as the preferred supplier. Looking at this bridge it is now clear why the best designs and the best materials always pay dividends.
A great design, a great product, and an amalgam of expertise which sets the standard for all future bridge and stairway works across the Rail Network.