Corrosion Around Us

Under the UK’s Network Rails ‘Access for All’ programme, ongoing over the last 15-20 years, we now have step-free, accessible routes at more than 200 railway stations across Britain to provide an obstacle free, accessible route to and between railway platforms. The improvements have been funded by the Department of Transport, which also selects the stations. In Scotland, ministers recommended stations for inclusion to the Secretary of State for Transport.

In 2006, the DfT published the Railways for All Strategy, outlining the UK government’s intention to improve access to the rail network for disabled people across Britain. A key part of this strategy was the Access for All Fund. The Access for All programme was launched in 2006 to deliver accessible routes at stations. The standard design included new lift shafts and footbridges. Examples of rail inclusivity and accessibility improvements include:

Lifts that are automatic and give an audible tone when the doors open and close.
Staircases and platform edges that have tactile warning surfaces.
  • New ramps and footbridges with lowered handrails.

Often, these are replacing well maintained historic railway footbridges that have been in place for over 150 years without significant corrosion issues. Dumfries Station is a fine, well-detailed example of a mid-19th century station, built in the Italianate style, a listed structure since 1981.

Refer: Access for All – Improving Accessibility at Railway Stations Nationwide – Network Rail

Unfortunately, many new structures are seen to be failing prematurely due to poor design detailing, e.g. water traps, 
a lack of water drainage points, inferior coatings, and poor material selection. Winter de-icing programmes are 
accelerating structural damage. The salt attracts moisture from the environment to the carbon steel substrate, which speeds 
up the oxidation (rusting) process.

Photo 1: Typical Original Non-Accessible Footbridge without Lifts.

Photo 2: (a) Dumfries-Station-Original Footbridge (b) Dumfries-Station Replacement Footbridge 2024 – Credit: Network Rail.

Photo 3: Corrosion Around Us – Network Rail Footbridge, Dyce, Aberdeenshire (a) Footbridge Stairs, (b) Support Stanchion and  (c) Underside of Footbridge  – Credit Stephen Tate.

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