Bridge collapse closes Midland Main Line

THE partial failure of a two-arch brick bridge over the Midland Main Line has closed the line north of Leicester. Passengers who use East Midlands Trains services are being bussed from Leicester to Loughborough.

Grove Lane bridge at Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire, provides access to the Ivanhoe Line station, and it is the west side of the bridge that collapsed around midnight on August 1. The exact age of the bridge is unknown, but is thought to be well over 120 years old.

Residents who live in terraced cottages overlooking the site were used to the vibrations of passing trains but said the collapse of the bridge wall, pavement and sub-soil sounded like an earthquake.

Debris has blocked the up and down fast lines, at all services have been suspended until further notice

The last train to pass under the bridge was an empty stock working from Nottingham to Leicester at 23.48, the bridge failing around 10 minutes later. A northbound HST from St Pancras to Nottingham had passed under the bridge at 23.44.

Exactly what caused the bridge is under investigation by Network Rail explained spokesman Toby Higgins. He confirmed that reports of subsidence on the pedestrian walkway had been under investigation and monitoring for some time.

Local residents told RM Editor Chris Milner that cracks between the pavement and bridge brickwork had been in existence for months, and one resident has provided the local newspaper with a picture of the gap taken on March 12.

One suggestion was that the collapse was due to a burst watermain, but two residents from the adjacent cottages said they did not recall such an incident, however Leicestershire Fire service has said that the collapse was partially caused due to a leaking water pipe effecting its stability. Network Rail had been unable to confirm this at the time of posting this report.

At the time of the collapse, the bridge had been closed for investigative work by Network Rail engineers and it is during this work that the incident happened. Unconfirmed reports say drilling was taking place.  When the bridge gave way, it took a small digger with it, and that is now lying halfway down the embankment.

A large team of Network Rail engineers have been examining the structure closely, their priority being its stability and how soon train services can begin even if they are confined to the slow lines, but there were to be no trains for the rest of the day.

An announcement on service resumption was expected during the afternoon of August 2. The road, however, will remain closed indefinitely for repairs to be carried out.

UPDATE: Network Rail released the slow lines for operation at 05.00 on August 3, services encountering delays 12-15mins due to lower line speeds. Leicester-Nottingham-Lincoln local services replaced by buses between Leicester and Nottingham – check http://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk for details.