Virtual reality headsets considered for Forth Road Bridge visitors

Virtual reality headsets to give Forth Road Bridge visitors the sensation of roaming the bridge and climbing the towers are being considered as part of tourism plans for the crossing.

The view that may soon be on offer to visitors with hi-tech VR headsets. Photographs: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
The view that may soon be on offer to visitors with hi-tech VR headsets. Photographs: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

They are among possible schemes to exploit the tourist potential of the bridge now it is largely traffic-free.

A bike hire scheme could also be launched, enabling visitors to cycle over the structure and enjoy views of the Queensferry Crossing and Forth Bridge on either side.

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Other ideas include outdoor film shows on giant screens using the bridges as a backdrop, and a new visitor centre.

The virtual reality equipment, already employed by bridge engineers, could be used by visitors not able enough to explore the structure.

It is also thought that some of the bridge access schemes recommended in a 2013 study, revealed by The Scotsman in September, could also be revived.

They included a clear glass viewing platform at the top of the south-east tower, reached by glass lifts, and a bungee jumping platform under the bridge deck.

These were shelved when Network Rail announced a viewing platform on the Forth Bridge, but that has itself been put on hold in favour of Sydney Harbour Bridge-style bridge climbs, to be launched in 2020.

Consultation on that scheme is due to start in the new year prior to a planning application being lodged.

Amey, which runs the Forth Road Bridge for the Scottish Government and is also due to operate the Queensferry Crossing from the new year, said more than 32,000 people had visited a bridges viewing area beside the Forth Road Bridge offices in South Queensferry since August.

Counters will be installed on the bridge’s pedestrian and cycle paths along with information touch screens.

The bridge has been limited to buses since the Queensferry Crossing opened permanently in September.

An Amey spokesman said: “We consider the feasibility of any tourist opportunities on the Forth bridges as part of ongoing improvements.

“Whenever possible, this includes incorporating exciting new technologies such as virtual reality, if practical, and after they have been properly assessed.”

Proposals are expected to be outlined in a Forth bridges tourism strategy, being co-ordinated by Fife Council, which is due to be unveiled by the end of the year.

Tourism partnership manager Ann Camus said: “The Forth Bridges Forum tourism project group has spent considerable time consulting on the strategy, which has included surveys through the Forth bridges website and of businesses.

“This yielded a considerable amount of views and ideas, and we want to ensure we capture the important elements of this comprehensive consultation exercise.”