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Mixed fortunes for Diss shops during road closure

PUBLISHED: 09:09 31 December 2009 | UPDATED: 11:22 12 July 2010

The new bridge deck at Diss is inched into place on the back of an abnormal load-carrying vehicle. The bridge was successfully replaced during the Christmas weekend, with teams working around the clock to limit disruption to road and rail users.

The new bridge deck at Diss is inched into place on the back of an abnormal load-carrying vehicle. The bridge was successfully replaced during the Christmas weekend, with teams working around the clock to limit disruption to road and rail users.

Shopkeepers reported mixed fortunes on Christmas Eve after the main road into Diss was closed for a rail bridge replacement scheme.

Fears were raised that shoppers would be put off from venturing into the town as a result of the closure of the A1066 Victoria Road to traffic, cyclists and pedestrians.

Shopkeepers reported mixed fortunes on Christmas Eve after the main road into Diss was closed for a rail bridge replacement scheme.

Fears were raised that shoppers would be put off from venturing into the town as a result of the closure of the A1066 Victoria Road to traffic, cyclists and pedestrians.

But the back roads around Diss were gridlocked and the town's car parks were full on Thursday as people stocked up with last-minute presents and provisions.

The Network Rail bridge works on the Norwich-London mainline closed Victoria Road from 6am Christmas Eve until Monday morning.

Steve Jones, manager of 121 Computers, in Victoria Road, said business had been brisk, despite the long diversion route.

“I am sure it has affected traders in the town, but our loyal customers will try to get to us. It is inconvenient of course, but that is life. They [Network Rail] have to do their work,” he said.

Freddie James, of Fredericks Fine Foods, in Norfolk House Yard, off St Nicholas Street, added that the majority of his customers had come in a day early to pick up their goods.

“I am looking at other shops and they look like they have not had that many people. It is a problem I am sure the people in the town are not happy about,” he said.

Charlene Reeves, of Mrs Sweets, in Market Hill, said a number of customers had complained about the road closure subsequent traffic problems.

“It is not the right time of the year to do it, but trade has been better than I hoped,” she said.

The Network Rail engineers worked around the clock to replace the bridge in just 72 hours.

Andrew Munden, Network Rail's route director for Anglia, said: “The old bridge over Victoria Road was approaching the end of its lifespan and needed to be replaced. Many more trains use this stretch of line than did when the bridge was first built so we've installed a new bridge designed to cope with the demands of a busy twenty-first century railway.”

Once the last train had passed through on Christmas Eve, engineers moved in to dismantle the overhead power lines and cut and remove the existing tracks and ballast before the old deck was lifted out using a giant crane. The new pre-fabricated bridge deck was then inched into place before the ballast was replaced and the tracks and overhead power lines re-connected.

Mr Munden added: “I'd like to thank the people of Diss for their co-operation and apologise for any inconvenience caused during this essential bridge replacement. The previous bridge had served the town well for more than 100 years. I'm sure that the new bridge will do the same.”

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