Updated design manual equips users to build good and sustainable railway bridges in the UK


In close collaboration with Network Rail, Gottlieb Paludan Architects has updated the design manual "Footbridges & Subways", which includes description and assessment of Network Rail's standard bridge designs. The design manual will inform and guide users in the design of new bridge and tunnel connections, leveraging good and sustainable design across the UK railway network. Gottlieb Paludan Architects led a team that also included consultants from Currie & Brown and structural engineers from Davies Maguire.

With a vision to promote accessibility, Network Rail has developed a series of standard designs over the past few years, all of which comply with Network Rail's own Design Principles and ensure that users can travel easily and safely. The new standard designs, based on a deep understanding of both functionality and form, consist of 4 bridge designs for station environments as well as two bridge designs that can be used when a bridge connection across the railway is required between stations.

All standard bridge designs have been assessed based on a number of qualitative parameters such as their ability to create identity, how they adapt to their surroundings and their ease of maintenance. In addition, a comprehensive analysis of life cycle costs and embodied C02 was also carried out to support sustainable decisions, with all data made freely available in the manual's appendix.

It has been important for Network Rail to be completely transparent and share the information developed. The manual thus also contributes to raising sustainability as a crucial parameter when developing a solution. In addition to describing and assessing standard bridges, the manual also includes guidelines for customised bridge solutions and the design of tunnel solutions.

The key objective for the update has been to make the manual more accessible and simple in its communication to ensure that all stakeholders involved can make informed decisions on the most appropriate design solutions. It has thus been Gottlieb Paludan Architects' main task to help users and create the best possible basis for decision-making. To qualify the update of the manual, Gottlieb Paludan Architects has facilitated a series of workshops with relevant stakeholders from the Network Rail organisation.

"This project has been an exciting challenge for us, as it is a communication and dissemination task rather than a traditional design task. Our role has been to empower users to get involved and make informed design decisions, " says Sara Wille-Garvin, Head of Urban Development & Mobility at Gottlieb Paludan Architects.

The initiative marks a shift in the approach to bridge design in the UK. For many years, standard steel templates have been the favoured solution without sufficient consideration for passenger comfort and sustainability. With the new standardised bridges and updated design manual, Network Rail wants to make it easy to meet the technical requirements of the bridge structures while meeting passenger expectations for comfort, accessibility and aesthetic integration.

One of the new standard bridges presented in the design manual is "The Frame Footbridge", designed by Gottlieb Paludan Architects in 2019. Read more about the design here: https://www.gottliebpaludan.com/en/project/network-rail-bridge

The design manual is available online and can be found via this link.