Revised plans for guided tours to top of Forth Bridge announced

Revised plans for Sydney Harbour Bridge-style guided walks to the top of the Forth Bridge have been lodged by Network Rail Scotland.

The long-planned “Forth Bridge Experience” scheme would see groups of 12-15 people donning safety harnesses to be accompanied up walkways to two viewing platforms on the south cantilever, or tower, of the 132-year-old railway bridge between Fife and Edinburgh, 110m above the Forth.

Up to three groups an hour would be permitted on the bridge, with each tour expected to last around two-and-a-half hours.

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No date has been announced for the start of the tours, but industry sources said it could be by autumn next year.

Groups of 12-15 people would be led onto the bridge from a "reception hub" in Dalmeny on the south side of the Forth. Picture: Network Rail

The updated plans, which have been submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council, include siting the project’s single-storey “reception hub” to the east rather than west of the bridge in Dalmeny on the south side of the Forth, further away from neighbouring homes.

They also showed bridge walkers would use an existing access stair from a new raised terrace, rather than via a ramp around the building and a new gantry.

The centre would include a 56-space car park with four disabled spaces and 15 electric vehicle charging points.

However, initial plans for the centre which were approved in 2020 included the number of spaces being halved by the council to 39.

Walkers would wear safety harnesses to ascend to viewing platforms at the top of the Forth Bridge. Picture: Network Rail

At the time, Network Rail Network Rail said the reduction would lead to an overspill of some 17 cars and see the car park full between 1pm and 7pm each day.

The rail body said: “It is considered that this is an arbitrary number with no supporting evidence or independent assessment.”

The revised plans also showed a planned vehicle turning area has been scrapped, enabling more trees to be retained.

A new path from Dalmeny Station would also be constructed.

Network Rail, which owns the bridge, said the attraction would offer “a unique and memorable visit to one of Scotland’s most loved and iconic structures”.

The walkers’ harnesses would be attached to a “continuous running safety line” on the walkways.

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Network Rail said the reception building would be “sympathetically positioned in the landscape and offer stunning views of the iconic heritage structure while minimising the impact on the surrounding environment”.

It said the updated application had followed a public consultation last autumn to get feedback from residents.

Director of engineering and asset management Alan Ross said: “We have worked very hard over the past year to draw up revised proposals, making them more affordable and more sympathetic to the surrounding environment without compromising the appeal of this project.

“The plans we have submitted to deliver a bridge walk experience will offer the public a unique chance to explore this world-famous structure and create another exciting tourist attraction for Scotland.”

Network Rail originally announced plans for bridge walks in 2013 along with a visitor centre under the north cantilever of the bridge in North Queensferry, which has been shelved.

The centre would be linked by lift to a viewing platform on top of the north cantilever.

Network Rail had hoped to see the plans “at least partially realised” in time for the bridge’s 125th anniversary in 2015, but they were postponed by lack of funding.

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