A joint project by Network Rail and local people has revamped the look of an unpopular railway bridge in rural Lancashire.
A new mural has been painted on the Meadow Lane Bridge in Croston after its controversial upgrade in 2018.
At the time, the 60-year-old concrete bridge with open steel guardrails had to be replaced because it had reached the end of its life and did not meet modern safety standards.
But the newer, stronger steel bridge built as a safer crossing for traffic, cyclists and pedestrians has not been well received.
Many people felt that the bridge’s enclosed shiny steel sides – or parapets – were out of harmony with the countryside, and a campaign was launched by locals to have the structure replaced entirely.
Because the bridge met 21st century railway standards – and cost millions of pounds to install – a taxpayer-funded full rebuild was simply not viable.
This led to an unknown party wrapping the new bridge in vinyl graphics, but without proper application they became unsightly and began to peel, posing a safety risk to the railway below and to road users as well.
Since 2019, Network Rail has been working closely with the local action group to find a way for the community to have a say in how the bridge can better integrate with the village.
So this summer, a design by local activists was painted on the bridge’s metal parapets and became the canvas for a new piece of public art that all of Croston can be proud of.
Kath Almond, chair of the local action group, said: “Meadow Lane Bridge is the entrance to our village from the countryside.
“The industrial look of the steel parapets was hideous compared to the railings we had before.
“Despite our outcry, Network Rail insisted it could not be changed due to cost.
“They did however offer to paint it a solid colour. Then a nice person put a vinyl on it, depicting the countryside view we had lost.
“Our action group decided this was what we wanted, and after lengthy discussions Network Rail agreed.
“The result is that the steel bridge seems to have disappeared into the sky and the countryside has returned.
“We still miss our railings, but now we have a feature that will amuse people for many years to come. »
Network Rail project manager Helena Williams said: “While we have a duty to keep the railway safe and reliable for road and rail users, we have learned a valuable lesson: our infrastructure is important to local people and the region in which they live.
“We would like to thank the Local Action Group and the people of Croston for their patience, cooperation and ingenuity in creating a new feature for their beautiful village that can be enjoyed for years to come.”
Network Rail has a rolling program to renew and maintain rail infrastructure across Britain.
Improving bridges across cities, towns and villages not only helps maintain the reliability of passenger and freight trains, but also protects the safety of road users, such as heavy goods vehicles, buses , coaches, cars and pedestrians when roads cross the rail network. .