A new footbridge has opened at Southall that also offers excellent views across the Great Western Main Line railway.

There had been a bridge at this location before – an old red bridge, but this was removed in March 2017. This structure had fallen into disrepair and was not considered safe to be left in situ. In addition, support trestles of the old footbridge structure obstructed the platform extensions at Southall station for the Elizabeth line.

The old bridge had been pedestrian only, whereas the replacement has been designed with a wider space to allow for cyclists. There are also cycle ramps up both sides of the staircases.

Incidentally, if you’re interested, the ramps that run up the sides of stairs for cyclists are known as “Dutch Ramps”.

There’s also space to add lifts at a later date – but there’s no funding for those at the moment. And although the footbridge doesn’t have an official name, in all the documents, it’s referred to as the “Merrick Road Foot and Cycle Bridge”

The design is for a solid wall along the section above the railway, and there’s a perforated section above that which then lifts the height to a level compliant with railway regulations to make it harder to drop things on the tracks below.

However, the design they’ve come up with is low enough to allow a camera to be held above, or a cameraphone to focus through the grill. That makes the bridge ideal for photographers, as it’s both wide enough to not allow other people, but also gives a good view of the railway on the eastern side of Southall station.

The very large structural truss design of the bridge is a consequence of it being a single 66-metre long span that runs over the railway without any supports in the middle. That made it a lot easier to instal and visually makes it a more obvious landmark for the area compared to the narrow shabby footbridge it replaced.

One downside of the bridge, either poor design or construction, is that it’s very puddle friendly. Especially the southern landing on the staircase which seemed to collect the rain into a decent sized swimming pool by the stairs. Hopefully, that’ll be sorted over time.

During the public consultations, there had been calls for the footbridge to have steps down to the station platforms, but that was ruled out due to the considerable extra cost it would have entailed. As the footbridge is just a couple of minutes walk from the main entrance, it was difficult to justify the cost.

The bridge was due to open before the Elizabeth line opened, but has been beset by delays. It finally opened in early December 2022.

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7 comments
  1. Paul Dabrowski says:

    As this bridge route forms part of a mediaeval path from Northolt to Norwood, it thus predates the railways. The original bridge (from which the founders of the Great Western Society spotted trains) should never have been closed with such little notice given at the time or without alternative provision being properly signposted.The time it has taken for its replacement to be opened has been an absolute scandal with council officers cowering under the demands and intransigence of Network Rail and developer officialdom meaning that walkers intending use the pathway have had the best part of a decade to do without this vital link. Given its location in a high crime area, the solid walls up to head height and lack of lighting give little confidence of safety at night but at least the stairs have been retained rather than be ditched in favour of the overlong ramps originally intended. More of a travesty than a success for any of the parties concerned in its construction.

    • ianVisits says:

      You’ve made four comments on this website, and three of them have been long rants about this one footbridge.

      A footbridge that’s a mere two-minute walk from the main road that easily gets you from one side of the railway to the other.

  2. Paul Dabrowski says:

    I think justified as a local resident inconvenienced by a route I took regularly and finding each of Network Rail, Ealing Council and various developers,all ‘passing the buck’ whenever an update on progress was politely requested. The new footbridge span was installed at Christmas two years ago and it’s taken since then to get the stairways installed!

  3. john says:

    I thought all new pedestrian bridges had to be wheel,chair friendly,why is it not covered over considering the speed of trains that pass beneath?

    • ianVisits says:

      Footbridges don’t have to be wheelchair friendly, as sometimes the cost of adding lifts etc means no footbridge for anyone — better to have something than nothing at all, but as noted, this one has a provision to add lifts at a later date.

      So long as consideration is taken of accessibility, and in this situation, the footbridge is about a minute from a road that offers level acces around the railway.

      Network Rail are happy with the design of the bridge, so I bow to their expertise in whether it’s safe for the trains below.

  4. Brian Wood says:

    As a ‘trainspotter’ back in the day I have mixed memories. There was staircase down from it to Southall shed, between the Main Line and the Brentford branch (which headed down to the wonderful Three Bridges- Road over canal over railway). Not so good if the shedmaster saw you coming and saw you off!
    What a lot of new flats/ ‘bijou residences’ so easily accessible to London jobs- transformative.

  5. Gerard McMahon says:

    Used it with my bicycle; the “Dutch Ramps” are very useful…they should be more widespread in London.
    No complaints otherwise!

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