Fringe Box



Network Rail Casts Doubts Over Ash Station Footbridge Project

Published on: 30 Jan, 2024
Updated on: 30 Jan, 2024

The level crossing at Ash which is being replaced by a road bridge currently under construction but it is not certain a a footbridge for pedestrians will also be built.

By David Reading

Plans to build a pedestrian footbridge over the railway line at Ash Station – a project that has gone hand in hand with the construction of the new road bridge – have been thrown into doubt by Network Rail.

Following a Freedom of Information request instigated by one of the Guildford borough councillors for Ash, the rail company has stated: “It is not a foregone conclusion that the bridge will be built.”

Network Rail explained that until detailed designs had been drawn up, they did not know the cost of the scheme and whether it would be affordable.

A council officers’ report in March 2023 said: “It is hoped that Network Rail will meet all or at least the majority of the costs of delivering the footbridge.” The report acknowledged that “funding is not yet confirmed.”

The closure of Ash level crossing is part of the overall thinking behind the road bridge scheme, which is why the footbridge is needed for pedestrians. For years Network Rail has identified the crossing as a safety risk and wants it closed.

Cllr Sue Wyeth-Price

The FoI request was sent to Network Rail by Cllr Sue Wyeth-Price (R4GV, Ash South). She received a response on January 8 pointing out the challenges that exist in respect of the footbridge project. The footbridge plan is not dismissed entirely, but the response shows it could at the very least be delayed – maybe until the end of the decade.

The letter says: “I can confirm we will be providing a feasibility study for a footbridge with detailed design documents to follow. The feasibility study has been completed but the design work will not begin until sometime in the new financial year.

“It is not a foregone conclusion that the bridge will be built. Firstly, it has to pass planning consultation which the developing council will be pursuing and then funding has to be found within Network Rail to complete the scheme.

“Without the more detailed design, which is not done yet, we do not have a price for the scheme and therefore do not know if it is affordable. A likely timescale to understand the costs will be minimum six months and then if affordable, installation would be within the next five years.”

The new Ash road bridge under construction

The Ash Green Residents Association (AGRA) – the group representing the interests of local residents – was shocked to hear about the doubts surrounding the footbridge scheme.

A statement from the AGRA committee said: “When the Ash road bridge was first proposed, the public were told at several public meetings that a pedestrian bridge would be built. One of the justifications for the bridge was to improve safety by the closure of the level crossing, where the main problem appeared to be that pedestrians were crossing when the barriers were down.

“If, as appears likely, no pedestrian bridge is likely to come forward for possibly up to five years, then one of the main justifications for the bridge would appear to have not been fulfilled. The majority of issues have been as a result of non-motorised traffic, and these issues will still remain if there is no footbridge.”

However, GBC remains positive that the footbridge will be built, whilst acknowledging this will not be a quick process.

Lead councillor for Regeneration Cllr Tom Hunt (Lib Dem, St Nicolas) said: “Network Rail is currently undertaking a feasibility study for the footbridge over the railway at Ash Station. They will then prepare detailed design documents. When we receive the feasibility report and the detailed design information, we will submit a planning application for the footbridge.

“Network Rail will be seeking funding internally for the footbridge between April 2024 and March 2027. We have budget set aside for the planning process.”

During a public information session held for residents last September, one of the most frequently asked questions was: How will pedestrians get across the railway when the road bridge is open?

The council’s reply was: “The level crossing will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists after the bridge is open and until such time as a footbridge is installed.”

Network Rail makes it clear that the intention to build a footbridge still exists.

The letter to Cllr Wyeth-Price said: “As a general overview, there were several planning applications submitted to build housing in the area that Network Rail objected to unless Ash level crossing was closed. The road would need to be diverted via a flyover and Guildford Borough Council achieved funding for this scheme. Once the new flyover is in place it is our intention to close the level crossing and enable pedestrians to cross the railway via a new footbridge.”

Network Rail says a lift would be included within the design that would make the bridge accessible for all. “These lifts would be available constantly with a maintenance plan in place to deal swiftly with any outage making the lifts unavailable.”


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Responses to Network Rail Casts Doubts Over Ash Station Footbridge Project

  1. John Lomas Reply

    January 30, 2024 at 5:01 pm

    Surely a Pedestrian/Cycle etc crossing could be used utilising a relatively narrow(pavement width), auto locking gate system. This could be cheaper to construct and easier to use than a long ramped, plus steps bridge.

  2. Frank Emery Reply

    January 30, 2024 at 6:40 pm

    I did ask the question some time ago and was told it was in hand and in conjunction with the road bridge!

  3. H Trevor Jones Reply

    January 31, 2024 at 10:26 am

    I have no personal interest in Ash station, which I don’t think I’ve ever used, but I have observed, from a passing train, folk apparently climbing the crossing barriers in order to run from one platform to the other so as to make a tight connection between a Reading train and an Aldershot train. It is for these passengers that a footbridge is needed.

  4. John Ferns Reply

    January 31, 2024 at 4:18 pm

    In recognition of a GMFU of GBC’s own making, in the style of Private Eye’s E. J. Thribb (17½)

    Amidst the twilight gloom, a sight anew,
    A bridge of steel and stone, a feat true,
    O’er the railway tracks, a path for cars,
    A pricey project, Guildford’s scar.

    The council’s budget, a heavy weight,
    A burden to bear, a cost so great,
    The rat-running traffic, a never-ending plight,
    A living nightmare, a constant fight.

    The construction zone, a chaotic sight,
    Detours and delays, a constant fight,
    The roar of machinery, a never-ending sound,
    A living nightmare, all around.

    The residents, a worried bunch,
    Afraid of the noise, the mess, the crunch,
    Their peaceful lives, now a distant dream,
    A living nightmare, a constant scheme.

    The people cry, “Stop this madness now!”
    But the council, deaf to their vow.
    The bridge stands tall, a constant blight,
    A reminder of the council’s might.

    The traffic jams, a never-ending plight,
    As the bridge, a barrier, takes flight.
    The people suffer, day and night,
    Under the weight of the council’s might.

    A bridge too far, a price too steep,
    Guildford council’s budget does not sleep,
    The cost of building, a sum too great,
    A burden on taxpayers, a heavy weight.

    But still, the council pushes on,
    Their vision, a road to nowhere gone.
    The bridge, a nightmare, a blight,
    A symbol of the council’s might.

  5. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    February 5, 2024 at 5:58 pm

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