Top engineering award for rail restoration project

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THE Rother Valley Rail Restoration project has won a top award in the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) South East England Engineering Excellence Awards 2013.

The awards recognise the best civil engineering projects across South East England, with judges looking for projects that deliver a real benefit to society through the knowledge, skills and expertise of civil engineers.

The Rother Valley Rail Restoration project in Robertsbridge won the Restoration Award of the ICE South East England Engineering Excellence Awards.

The project team behind the scheme received the award from ICE senior vice president Geoff French at a ceremony at Leeds Castle on June 7.

Director of ICE South East England, John Laverty, said: “This was a £435,000 scheme to extend this heritage railway including replacing five bridges. It was submitted by the Rother Valley Railway Heritage Trust.

“The Kent and East Sussex Light Railway was the first railway to be built under the Light Railways Act 1896.

“The railway closed in 1961, but restoration work has been underway since 1974 with volunteers aiming to create a heritage railway transport link to provide public transport benefits and to increase tourism. The Rother Valley Railway was formed to extend the line to reach the original terminus at Robertsbridge.

“The award winning project involved restoration of a further 300 metres of railway on the original track bed was completed in 2012, which involved the reconstruction of five bridges and river bank erosion works. One bridge span was renewed while four others made use of refurbished ex-Network Rail steel bridge spans. All of the abutments were strengthened or rebuilt. Challenges lying ahead for the team include three level crossings and embankment reinstatement over a flood plain. The project has been entirely funded by donations and has used volunteer input wherever possible. Our congratulations go to the project team involved in this scheme on winning the overall Restoration Award. ICE South East England’s Engineering Excellence Awards aim to recognise the very best infrastructure projects in the region and we are pleased that this project has won this level of recognition. Having the right infrastructure is a key factor to generate economic success and publicly rewarding the people, organisations and businesses which deliver that infrastructure is important because of the benefits such civil engineering projects bring to the community.”