Yorkshire engineering expertise enlisted to level-up railway accessibility

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Engineering company SCX Special Projects is at the heart of a technology project set to revolutionise how rail footbridges are built across the UK’s rail network.

SCX is known for its “sliding pitch” at Premier League Tottenham Hotspur’s iconic stadium and the two concertina roofs over the show courts at the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon.

It has teamed up with more world-class names to develop an environmentally friendly, easily accessible and cost effective adaptable footbridge for Network Rail.

SCX, based at Wincobank, Sheffield, has designed a modular passenger lift system for the footbridge that overcomes many weaknesses of traditional passenger lifts, while also solving complex and time-consuming installation challenges.

The new footbridge design has been christened AVA, chosen for the letters that echo its triangular design.

Each AVA lift module can be manufactured in SCX’s workshops as a single unit, shipped to site on a trailer, and simply lifted into position and attached to the bridge.

The design makes lift maintenance easier, while also tackling the issue of fragile door mechanisms – the number one cause of out-of-order lifts – to keep the rail network accessible to all, including disabled users, people with prams and pushchairs and cyclists.

Danny Pickard

Danny Pickard, sales director at SCX, said: “We have been working with some great British companies to deliver the AVA adaptable bridge for Network Rail.

“By making the AVA lift system entirely modular, the installation process is greatly simplified and can be performed anywhere and everywhere – from a remote rural station to a big rail hub.

“It firmly establishes us in the rail and infrastructure sectors at an important time when HS2 is on the horizon.

“The AVA footbridge can be built for half the cost of a traditional bridge and in a quarter of the time.

“This could save millions for Network Rail while improving access for thousands of British rail travellers.

“Beyond that, the design also has relevance to footbridges over the road network, at transport interchanges, service stations, and more.”

A Network Rail spokesman added: “Created by a world class engineering, manufacturing and construction team, and designed to be different, the configurable nature of the bridge design means AVA can fit any station, anywhere.

“Construction of the test station is well underway and, once that phase is finished, the first AVA footbridge installations will commence on the UK’s national rail network.”

This Network Rail initiative is backed by Innovate UK, and saw SCX working alongside a team featuring Expedition Engineering Ltd, Walker Construction UK Ltd, X-TREME SYSTEMS LIMITED, MTC – Manufacturing Technology Centre, Quantum Infrastructure, Hawkins Brown Architects, Norman Foster Foundation, and Atelier Ten.