EXCLUSIVE by Bill Heaney

It looked fantastic at the time, but The Dumbarton Democrat can reveal tonight that the work on the Bonhill Road- Strathleven Place railway bridge has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster.

The civil engineering company who carried out the £2 million project to replace the old bridge 200 yards from Dumbarton Central Station got their mathematical calculations wrong.

It has been discovered that the bridge was reconstructed about five centimetres higher than it should have been.

Which means that services on this busy mainline railway which runs from Balloch to Glasgow and Helensburgh to Edinburgh are still being interrupted and even cancelled altogether and that a speed limit has been imposed on the track running across this new bridge.

Baillie Jackie MSP fishingThe story leaked out last week when a whistle blower telephoned me with a tip off, which I asked Jackie Baillie,  pictured right, Dumbarton and Lomond MSP, to comment on.

She said she would take the matter up with ScotRail and Network Rail and come back to me.

And tonight she did come back with the following comment:

“It is disappointing that following weeks of disruption in October, when the Bridge was being replaced, there could be even more disruption for residents and passengers who will have to suffer yet more works at Bonhill Road Rail Bridge.

“This mistake is causing yet more disruption on our already chaotic, rail network as trains are being forced to slow down at this section of the line. Network Rail should be trying to claim back money from AMCO Giffen, the contractor, to ensure that the public purse is compensated for their error.”

This news will come as a bolt from a blue train for railway passengers who are sick and tired of disruption and being kept late for going back and forward to work.

Like many Dumbarton people, I was impressed by the AMCO Giffen operation and wrote this when it was completed:

So there you have it. The railway bridge at Strathleven Place/Bonhill Road has been replaced overnight with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of efficiency. People came from miles around to see this historic piece of civil engineering work being carried out in Dumbarton at the weekend. Local people have expressed disappointment about the loss and lopping of lime trees on Dumbarton Common, lack of notice of this work being carried out and about the diversion signs and re-routing of motor traffic and pedestrian pathways not being adequate. However, this has been offset to some degree by the efficiency of the work done to replace the bridge by Network Rail’s contractors AMCO Giffen

How wrong can you get? Network Rail have now confirmed that the bridge has not been erected to the proper specifications.

It has been erected too high and will need a significant amount of work to correct this.

Trains have to slow down on their approach to this bridge which sits between Dumbarton Central and Dumbarton East and runs alongside Bankend Road at Dumbarton Common.

Network Rail have stated however that the speed limit has not been imposed because of any ongoing safety issues.

The company’s civil engineers are currently employed at Dumbarton Central Station, where work is being done on the bridge at the old station entrance, and also further along Station Road at the bridge known as the Dark Arch at the foot of College Street.

There are no details yet of what plans Network Rail have to move back on to the job at bridge in Strathleven Place/Bonhill Road.

The works in October last year caused a significant amount of disruption and more will soon be on the way, once again taking up a large yard space on Dumbarton Common.

Residents, particularly those on Meadow Road, Bonhill Road and Pointfauld Terrace will be worst hit by traffic chaos and confusion.

They have already put up with ongoing chaos on the roads and are still having to suffer from closure of Station Road and the traffic being diverted off the Church Street roundabout.

This time they are hoping the civil engineers will liaise with the local council to make things easier for them.

Pictures by Jim Crosthwaite and Alan Ruine


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