NORTH Queensferry residents have been invited to air their concerns on how Network Rail keep the 131-year-old Forth Bridge in good condition.

As reported by the Press last week, locals have expressed their frustrations at work allegedly taking place over their heads.

Residents highlighted safety issues, noise and poor communication surrounding Network Rail's £7.5 million refurbishment project.

The issues were submitted to Network Rail by the Press and their statement in response has prompted a reaction from a local residents group.

In a letter to the Press, the group stated: "As residents of North Queensferry and living close to the Forth Bridge, we read with interest your article in last weeks' Dunfermline Press.

"However, the comments from the Network Rail spokesperson are somewhat off the mark.

"In summary: communication has been non-existent.

"Since the onset of the project, residents have only received one mailshot, in February 2020, and a formal notice of revised working hours in the local Ferry News in Autumn 2020. This amounts to a mere two attempts at contact in 12 months, plus one attendance at a community council."

The group went on to reference quotes from Network Rail and their reaction to it.

  • 'We have systems in place to limit our impact on the local residents.' - "That’s news to us and we would like to know more."
  • 'We conduct regular noise monitoring.' - "Again, how is that done as it’s not apparent to us."
  • 'We regularly review the netting.' - "Well someone needs to inform this Network Rail spokesperson that all safety netting was removed last year after it dramatically failed in moderate wind conditions of 29mph."

The group continued: "We only need to go back to Tuesday, February 16 2021 as an example of poor communication on the part of Network Rail.

"Without notice, a nightshift was mobilised with loud banging, grinding and welding throughout the night. This also continued on Wednesday night.

"Sparks from the grinding and welding operations cascaded in an uncontrolled fashion from the bridge to the properties, road and pavement below. There was no evidence of containment. Using the Network Rail National Call Centre to lodge a complaint was futile, as was the case previously.

"Considering the project was described to us as a blasting and painting operation on a dayshift basis and a clean-up operation on backshift, the replacement of steelwork, especially on nightshift, comes as a complete surprise.

"Following our complaint to the Community Council, Network Rail retrospectively replied to say that this work is due to continue throughout the month of February and although the work does not require a track possession, they advised that no trains should be passing overhead during the replacement of steel members. Hence the reason for nightshift working. Most alarming to hear that the bridge is in such a state of disrepair.

"This latest statement from Network Rail requires further investigation for the safety of residents and travellers alike."

Network Rail told the Press on Tuesday this week that the main point of contact for individual members of the public would be their 24-hour helpline, where they could log an inquiry that would then be passed out to the relevant department within Network Rail.

Since September, the railway company said that it has attended a community council meeting, had meetings with the MSP and had regular contact via email with the chair and vice chair of the community council and also held a site visit in December to discuss safety measures related to the refurbishment works on the north approach span.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We are in regular contact with the community council and local elected representatives. Any concerns members of the public may have about our work to keep the 130-year-old bridge in good condition can be reported to our 24-hour helpline on 03457 11 41 41.

"We will always respond to issues raised with us.”