Q&As

Can a highway authority compel a railway company to undertake repairs to a railway bridge when the lack of repair to the bridge renders road use unsafe and necessitates a road closure?

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Produced in partnership with Alastair Frew of Lodders Solicitors
Published on LexisPSL on 18/07/2019

The following Local Government Q&A produced in partnership with Alastair Frew of Lodders Solicitors provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can a highway authority compel a railway company to undertake repairs to a railway bridge when the lack of repair to the bridge renders road use unsafe and necessitates a road closure?

Can a highway authority compel a railway company to undertake repairs to a railway bridge when the lack of repair to the bridge renders road use unsafe and necessitates a road closure?

In the case of an old brickwork bridge over the railway, the ultimate responsibility for the structure of the bridge tends to fall on the railway company, as the freeholder of the bridge. However, if the damage is caused by traffic regulations allowing vehicles to damage the structure (too many heavy lorries, travelling too fast), then the responsibility will pass back to the highway authority. With a modern bridge, built as part of a modern road system, the bridge will typically be owned by the highway authority, who will have the duty to maintain it.

This Q&A refers to ‘railway bridges’ which are a special category, due to the fact that most of them were constructed by the railway companies in the Victorian period, rather than by the county councils in the post-war era. This issue is discussed in Practice Note: Bridges and tunnels and Q&A: If a rail company constructs a public footpath over a railway and there is an Order that states the operator of the railway is required to maintain it, which legislation prevails as to the maintenance of the footpath crossing the bridge?

Where a highway passes over a bridge, the

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