Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Plan for viewing platform at top of Forth Rail Bridge

Rail chiefs are looking at the idea of building a viewing platform for visitors to be hoisted more than 300ft to the top of the Forth Rail Bridge.

Network Rail, which manages the bridge, has confirmed it is examining the feasibility of establishing visitor access.

The platform would offer impressive views of all around the Firth of Forth.

Last month a 10-year job to paint the bridge was finally completed. The refurbishment cost £130m.

A Network Rail spokesman said the plans were still at a very early stage.

He said that during the restoration work, lifts had been built into all three of the bridge's towers to allow workers to gain access.

Lift access

He added: "We have a good amount of experience of building these platforms for the work that was being carried out and could look at making it more permanent.

"We are examining the feasibility of establishing visitor access to the bridge and this is one of a number of options under discussion.

"We are proud to be the custodian of such an iconic structure and following our 10-year restoration and repainting of the bridge we are keen to ensure it continues to play a role in the nation's future, as well as its history."

The rail bridge, which crosses the Forth Estuary between North and South Queensferry, was built between 1883 and 1890 and is 1.5 miles long.

The track is about 150ft (45m) above the water level and the bridge reaches 330ft (100m) at the tops of the towers.

The steel structure contains more than 6.5 million rivets.

The idea for the platform reportedly came from Nigel Harris, managing director of RAIL magazine, after he was taken on a bridge tour by Network Rail last month.

He told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper: "I'm certain that any number of Scottish brands - banks and whisky spring to mind - would be eager to have their names linked to such a world-class, high-profile tourist attraction.

"I'll wager the 'Forth Bridge Experience' could easily be as globally famous and respected as the Eiffel Tower visit - only better."

Image caption The 10-year project to paint the bridge came to an end in December

It has also emerged that Network Rail has now agreed to support a bid to win World Heritage Site status for the Forth Bridge.

SNP MSP Colin Keir had submitted a written parliamentary question to Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop asking her about the matter.

Mr Keir, MSP for Edinburgh Western, said: "It is extremely welcome that Network Rail has decided to change its position and is now supporting the inclusion of the bridge on the tentative list for nomination for inscription as a World Heritage Site.

"This would recognise the pioneering design of the bridge which is a huge symbol of Scottish engineering and its global status as a recognised image of Scotland."

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