Network Rail Infrastructure


Network Rail is the UK's national rail infrastructure owner and owns about 40,000 bridges, 950 tunnels and hundreds of kilometres of retaining walls and earthworks, all of which need maintaining in the most cost effective (and hence sustainable) way in the light of increased traffic needs. The bridge stock has an average age of about 80 years old and consists mainly of masonry arch and metallic flat deck types. A small proportion of the bridge stock is made up of relatively modern reinforced or pre stressed concrete structures. The oldest structures (mainly arch bridges and tunnels) are now generally well over 150 years old and, at current replacement rates, will have to last for many more centuries.


Network Rail is an active participant on UIC working groups looking into high speed and interoperability issues and has also recently participated in a UIC project looking at tunnel safety, particularly for high-speed passenger operation. It is also a participant in a new UIC project investigating the maintenance of elderly masonry arch bridges and has access to a UIC project examining pan European tunnel maintenance methods.


Network Rail is an active supporter of UK based research. Currently research is being supported in the areas of composite strengthening of metallic and concrete bridges; fatigue, shear strength and rivet strength in metallic structures; and masonry arch serviceability. It is also a member of the UK trade bodes the Concrete Society, the Concrete Bridge Development Group, the Steel Construction Institute, the Construction Industry Research and Information Association and the Welding Institute. It is a member of UK based collaborative networks dealing with the use of advanced composites in construction, with structural integrity monitoring and with the sustainability of masonry arches as well as the EU 5th framework networks SAMCO, SafRelNet and ConRepNet. Network Rail is also a lading member of co-ordination committees bringing together all the principal UK bridge owners, where mutual R&D and policy issues are discussed.


Being a part of one of the first railway industries to separate infrastructure ownership and maintenance from train operation Network Rail has more experience than most of dealing with the conflicting commercial needs of integrating structural maintenance with operational needs. It has a long history of fast bridge replacement and is constantly seeking less disruptive ways of maintaining its network. It will bring this long experience of the economic maintenance of structures to the proposal.


Network Railís principal participant in the Sustainable Bridges project will be Brian Bell, Structures Research and Development Engineer, who will liaise with his colleagues within the structures engineering group to ensure that the most up to date information is available. Brian is in regular contact with research bodies, universities and trade bodies in the UK and acts as Network Railís principal sponsor of structures based R&D. Network Rail will lead WP1, will provide specialist input into all other work packages and will participate in the overall management of the project. In addition, it intends to make some of its existing structures available for practical testing of appropriate developments made during the project. Project outputs will be disseminated to its bridge engineering staff through internal workshops and the issue of internal guidance. Dissemination to the wider UK bridge community will be through its existing links to cross industry committees.



 Brian Bell
(Structures Research and Development Engineer)


Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd
40 Melton Street, London NW1 2EE