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New Exeter footbridge is a British first

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: December 27, 2012

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BRITAIN'S first Grade II listed plastic footbridge has been opened at a railway station just outside Exeter.

It came after the demolition of the old steel footbridge and the installation of the new polymer composite footbridge.

Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail's Western route managing director, said: "The coastal railway line from Exeter to Newton Abbot, part of Network Rail's Great Western main line, is noted for its particularly scenic qualities and for being one of the most exposed in the country, constantly battling the effects of coastal erosion and salt spray corrosion.

"Dawlish station was originally designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1830 and is grade II listed. The station's 17.5 metre long covered steel footbridge, reconstructed in 1937, had deteriorated beyond economic repair so any similar form of replacement probably would have met the same fate in due course.

"Its replacement is a lightweight plastic structure weighing only five tonnes, about one third the weight of the old footbridge. We are hoping that it will require considerably less maintenance than the structure it has replaced."

First Great Western, regional manager west of England, Julian Crow said: "The First Great Western station at Dawlish welcomes almost half a million visitors a year. This new footbridge provides essential access for those visitors and is sure to stand not only the test of time but whatever the English weather can throw at it."

Designed by consulting engineers Tony Gee and Partners and their sub-consultant Optima Projects, the new footbridge has been constructed using modern advanced materials technology.

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