A prototype fibre-reinforced polymer footbridge has been unveiled in the UK. The bridge is low cost, streamlined and designed to provide an affordable replacement for pedestrian crossings, Railway Supply reports citing the Railway Gazette.


The FLOW bridge was designed and funded by Network Rail’s research and development group in partnership with other companies.

The bridge is about 40% cheaper than traditional steel structures. The foundation does not use concrete, which reduces its carbon footprint, and it is half the weight of a steel bridge, which means lower transportation and installation costs. Much of the construction can be done off site, which means installation can take place without major disruption to rail traffic.

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A real-time structural condition monitoring system tracks usage and provides data to support maintenance and future design improvements. Plans are underway for an accessible version with lifts and ramps for use in suitable locations.

“This prototype has the potential to transform railroad crossings to be safer, more accessible and fit for the future,” said Owen Thomas, project leader for research and development at Network Rail. “FLOW is not only reliable and efficient, but also aesthetically pleasing.”

Network Rail wants to close as many dangerous railroad crossings as possible, and this new footbridge shows that it can be done while saving taxpayers money and without disrupting passenger traffic during installation.

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