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Castle Cary Bridge is Open... But What's the Cost?

Thursday 19 December 2013, 18:06
By John Smith

Castle Cary railway bridge re-opened, but with only single lane traffic

The bridge over the railway at Castle Cary is open and traffic is flowing again. But with the lengthy repairs now set to become a bad memory, some local businesses are starting to calculate the cost to their livelihoods.

Here are a few indisputable facts

  • The Castle Cary Bridge was in serious need of repair.
  • The access bridge over the A303 into Wincanton for West bound traffic was badly in need of repair.
  • Two important bridges badly in need of repair are both closed at the same time! Wincanton was closed for 6 weeks and Castle Cary for 19 weeks.


Why were both bridges closed at the same time inflicting hardship on both towns? When asked, both Network Rail and The Highways Agency stated,

"We have done everything required of us to minimise the damage/hassle to the local communities".

Both bridges have now been refurbished. But what was the cost to the Castle Cary local economy?

Damage started even before the work began. We understand that at least one business that had just opened in town, or was planning to open, decided to close and move elsewhere. That income was lost to the local economy.

Janet Cronie of Ansford Parish Council stated that they didn't believe that Network Rail had lived up to the promises made. Network Rail said that work would be carried out using maximum daylight hours, but often no visible work was being carried out.

Clive Hooper of the Castle Cary Chamber of Commerce said his own turnover was down by 70-80% during the period. He said some businesses fared better, but on average turnover was probably down by about 50%.

Mike Lewis, District Councillor, confirmed that SSDC tried to offer temporary parking facilities on the town side of Castle Cary station so that people didn't have to use the major diversion to get to the station. Apparently Network Rail was not happy with this solution.

Castle Cary railway bridge closed for repairs - aerial view

Who was responsible for the planning and coordination of both contracts? Surely someone must receive notification of all such contracts, and have the authority to dictate which contract starts when.

Can anything be done to claim loss of earnings?

Janet Cronie said that Network Rail suggested that claims could be made subject to submission of proof of loss using figures from 2012 and 2013. Network Rail may have changed its mind on that score.

A possible option

Roger and Amanda Laing of Holly Lane Boutique are taking action against Network Rail. Roger said that claims limited to £10,000 costs only £60. The bonus is that if you lose, you don't have to pay Network Rail's legal fees. Contact Amanda and Roger at for information.

If all affected businesses took the same action as Roger and Amanda and ended up in court on the same day asking for £10,000 damages, would Network Rail sit up and take notice? If Morrison's or the like had a store in Castle Cary, would Network Rail have acted in the same way?

A surprise fact

Anchor Hill Service Station on the edge of Wincanton also lost out because of the Castle Cary Bridge closure. Fuel sales were down by 53,722 litres.

Mike Lewis asked us to inform our readers that the next major road works will be between Sparkford and Ilchester (Podimore roundabout). The A303 will be closed from 2nd December between the hours of 8.00pm and 6.00am for approximately 6 weeks. Check this page for the full details.


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