THE Forth Bridge Experience has been stopped in its tracks due to the impact of the pandemic.

Network Rail have confirmed to the Press that the upcoming tourist attraction had been "put on hold" following discussions with the Government.

Tourists were expected to set foot on the landmark this year with plans to install a bridge walk and visitor hub at the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Despite the setback, Network Rail say they're are still "committed" to opening the iconic structure to the public "when the time is right".

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Scotland’s Railway plays an integral role in the economic fabric of the nation, including our valuable tourism industry.

"The uncertain and challenging times we face across the globe as a consequence of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to a re-evaluation of the current proposal.

"Network Rail remains committed to opening the Forth Bridge to the public and we will continue to develop the project so that we can return to it when the time is right.”

Plans for the Forth Bridge visitor centre and bridge walk experience gained planning permission from the City of Edinburgh Council in early 2020.

Following that, Network Rail began a tender process to appoint a main contractor to design and build the new Forth Bridge Walkway Experience.

The operator says this process has now concluded but the pandemic has had an obvious impact on tourism and domestic rail travel which has meant a reassessment of spending priorities across a range of rail projects.

Network Rail wants to create a new hub at the iconic bridge where the public will be able to access the world-famous structure and explore its heritage as well as the outstanding views from 367 feet (110 metres) above sea level.

The project will see the construction of a bridge walk and reception centre on the south side of the site, which will be used for preparing those heading out on the bridge walk as well as providing an access point to the structure.

Groups of up to 15 people will put on safety harnesses before being led out onto the bridge’s south cantilever and walking up to a viewing point at the top using walkways built into the structure.

Between three and four groups an hour will be permitted on the bridge, with each tour expected to last around two-and-a-half hours.

It is estimated the bridge walk experience could attract around 85,000 visitors and create around 35-40 jobs, with profits reinvested straight back into the structure.

Longer-term plans to create visitor facilities at the north end of the bridge are also under development and could see future access to the top of the north cantilever, via a lift.

The idea was first revealed in 2013 but after delays, the £10 million project was brought back on track in 2019 when a detailed planning application was submitted.