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Network Rail launches AfA footbridge competition

Barnt green footbridge no train

Network Rail has launched a £20,000 competition seeking new design ideas for its access for all (AfA) footbridges over rail lines.

The rail operator said ideas developed for the competition should be “innovative, challenge presumptions and raise expectations” for the quality of future designs.

While it said it was “unrealistic” to think a one-size-fits-all approach was appropriate for every situation, it wanted to “generate a catalogue of appropriate footbridge designs” to give more flexibility in addressing the different sites.

In developing proposals, entrants are also being encouraged to consider how the accessible footbridge designs might be adapted for use in other settings such as at level crossings.

The £390M AfA programme was launched by the Department for Transport (DfT) in 2006. It was extended in 2014 with a further £163M of funding and it said a commitment had been made to continue the funding into control period 6 (CP6) from 2019 to 2024.

The scheme is aiming to provide accessible routes from the entrance of stations to the platform. Since its inception, Network Rail said it had installed 200 footbridges.

The competition is open internationally to practising architects, structural engineers, civil engineers or teams thereof, together with students of these design disciplines.

The judging panel will be chaired by Architects’ Journal editorial director Paul Finch and comprise six senior representatives from across the engineering and architecture profession.

Network Rail professional head buildings and architecture Anthony Dewar said: “Footbridges provide a vital function enabling the public to easily access train services and serving as public rights of way.

“Network Rail is committed to promoting design excellence. That’s why we’re challenging the architectural and engineering community to come up with new and innovative ideas for footbridge structures that will be both functional in form and sympathetic to the communities that they serve.

“The winning design concept will also need to protect and enhance the great legacy of engineering design that is inherent in railway history. We’re excited to see the solutions that will be put forward.”

For further details and how to enter please visit

The closing date for submission of design proposals is 14.00hrs (BST) on Tuesday 18 September 2018.

Judging panel

  • Chair - Architects’ Journal editorial director Paul Finch
  • Royal Society of Arts director of innovation and development Rowan Conway
  • Network Rail professional head buildings and architecture Anthony Dewar
  • Network Rail access and inclusion manager Margaret Hickish
  • Khaa founder Kay Hughes
  • Expedition Engineering director Chris Wise
  • Matter Architecture director Jonathan McDowell acting as the RIBA Architect Adviser.

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