Autumn Swing Bridge Upgrades

Oulton Broad swing bridge
Oulton Broad swing bridge. Network Rail photo

This Autumn Network Rail will upgrade the electrical and mechanical systems of three swing bridges in East Anglia. The work at the swing bridges at Oulton Broad, Somerleyton and Reedham will improve reliability for rail passengers and reduce disruption for boat users.

It’s thought that the internal components of the three swing bridges date back to 1905; they haven’t been replaced in more than 100 years and need frequent and costly maintenance.

Beginning this Autumn, Network Rail engineers will upgrade the internal components of the three bridges. The winch systems, hydraulic jacks, pipework, and lighting will be replaced and new power systems installed.

The upgrades will ensure the bridges are less prone to faults reducing the need for maintenance. The bridges will be able to operate more reliably throughout the year for rail passengers. This will also benefit river traffic by providing more reliable access to the local waterways helping to support the local economy, especially throughout the busy summer tourist season.

The work on the three historical structures will be carried out in such as to preserve their heritage look and feel.

Travel advice for rail passengers

The East Suffolk Line will be closed between Beccles and Lowestoft during the work as will the Wherry Lines between Lowestoft and Reedham as follows:

  • Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September 2022
  • Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 October 2022
  • Saturday 22 October to Sunday 6 November 2022 inclusive (16 days)
  • Sunday 20 November 2022

Greater Anglia will provide a rail replacement bus service to enable rail passengers to complete their journeys. Details will be available closer to the time of the work taking place on and

Advice for boat users

Network Rail has been working in coordination with the Broads Authority to plan the work after the busy summer tourist period to help minimise disruption. River access for vessels will be limited while the work takes place but there will be short windows of opportunity to open the bridges during the 16-day period to allow river access which will be communicated by The Broads Authority to boat users prior to works commencing.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “These bridges are an important part of our railway heritage and also an important part of keeping both rail and boat traffic moving. Renewing the components will reduce the risk of mechanical problems and help keep services running safely, smoothly and reliably for our passengers, as well as maintaining access to the ports and marinas.”

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director said: “This work will make our Norwich and Ipswich to Lowestoft lines even more reliable, which I know our customers will welcome. While the work is going on we will make sure customers can still complete their journeys with a rail replacement bus service.”

Rob Rogers, Broads Authority Director of Operations, commented: “This much-needed investment by Network Rail into the Broads’ swing bridges is very much welcomed by the Broads Authority and our boating communities.

It has been a challenging few years for our river users regarding the bridges and we are delighted to hear that work is progressing to allow them to reliably open for river traffic.

We urge the boating community to note the periods of closure above and to check our website as the works progress for any navigation updates.”