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HS2 reveals first rural footbridge design

High-Speed 2 (HS2) has unveiled designs of the bridges that will carry footpaths and bridleways across the railway as it passes through Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and West Northants.

Made of weathering steel, the sides of the lightweight bridges will lean outwards to maximise views of the sky and improve the experience of people crossing the railway.

Weathering steel, which ages naturally to a russet brown colour, was chosen to help match the tone of the surrounding countryside, while the plates that form the structure of the bridges will be angled to appear narrower and lighter.

To emphasise the sense of lightness, each span will be slightly higher in the middle so that they appear to leap over the railway. Most of the bridges will consist of just one 42m span, with extra spans added where necessary to create bridges of up to 102m long.

The bridges were designed by HS2’s main work contractor, EKFB - a team made up of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and BAM Nuttall – working with designers Arcadis Setec Cowi and architects Moxon.

In order to improve efficiency of manufacturing and assembly, all the bridges will have the same basic form, with the approach paths built into the earthworks on either side of the bridge. This also means that all the footbridges will effectively be step-free.

Designed with guidance from the British Horse Society, the bridges which carry bridleways will follow the same basic pattern, with a recycled, non-slip rubber deck and the structure acting like a baffle to stop horses being distracted by passing trains. Footbridges will be 2.5m wide, while bridleways will be 3.5m wide to allow two horses to pass comfortably and safely.

The internal faces of the bridges feature oak panelling and perforated stainless steel to allow views along the railway.

Eleven locations have been identified for the new design – around Aylesbury, the Chilterns, Chipping Warden, Westbury and Finmere. Other footpaths and bridleways will share farm access bridges and road bridges or cross the line under viaducts or over the top of tunnels.

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