East Croydon Station Bridge\

Infrastructure as a catalyst for regeneration

Major new £20m footbridge becomes the first ever structure to be push-launched over an operational rail station.

Connecting across the tracks

Croydon Council and Network Rail needed to increase capacity at East Croydon Station, the UK’s third busiest railway interchange station, to relieve congestion and facilitate the future development and regeneration of Croydon Metropolitan Centre, including plans to provide up to 7,500 new homes in the area.

Put simply, the bridge is needed to connect one side of the tracks to the other. However, the real challenge was building in capacity for future station growth that might include additional rail tracks, platforms, lifts and telecommunications equipment, to facilitate a predicted increase in passenger numbers until 2040. Critically, the station needed to stay fully operational during the entire construction process.

The bridge launch had to be pushed as slowly as possible so that train drivers approaching the station did not think that the bridge was collapsing.

Utilitarian elegance

A double Vierendeel truss – composed of rectangular rather than diagonal units– creates the main bridge housing retail kiosks, waiting areas and ticket machines. From this central spine cantilevered decks ferry passengers to each of the platforms. The exposed steel frame is white, with yellow internal panels that light up at night, to provide a beautifully utilitarian, emblematic structure, uniting the white silhouettes of No. 1 Croydon and East Croydon main station.

The bridge was designed in collaboration with engineering firm Mott Macdonald and assembled on a site adjacent to the railway by the contractor BAM Nuttall. Once erected, the 100m structure was installed in 20 hours via the push launch technique of construction over a live railway, without disrupting on-going services to platforms.

It was found that cows birthing lubrication was most effective for reducing resistance during installation; it was applied constantly to the bridge during the launch.

A catalyst for regeneration

Our masterplan for East Croydon is transforming the area through the delivery of a world-class railway station, an efficient transport interchange and a well-connected and high quality public realm. The robust framework for the phased delivery of these components is coordinated with a series of major, high quality, mixed-use developments, to create a new landmark urban quarter, fundamental to the growth of Croydon Metropolitan Centre and the borough as a whole.

“The new bridge will play a pivotal role in the regeneration of this area for Croydon, providing better access to the station and a key route between new developments and the town centre.”

Tim Robinson Route Managing Director, Network Rail

  • Project Details
  • Collaboration
  • Lessons Learnt
  • Materials
  • Sustainability

Project Summary

Project Team

Contractor: Bam Nuttal
Engineer: Mott Macdonald
Additional Architect: Studio Egret West


  • BD Architect of the Year Awards 2016 - Infrastructure - Winner
  • Constructing Excellence Awards 2014 - Health and Safety - Shortlisted
  • Constructing Excellence Awards 2014 - Innovation - Shortlisted
  • Construction News Awards 2014 - Shortlisted
  • Constructing Excellence Awards 2014 - Project of the Year - Shortlisted
  • New London Awards 2013 - Transport & Infrastructure - Shortlisted


The success of the project was a result of the extensive consultation with the developers and designers of the adjoining sites to ensure that the location of the new bridge both enabled the station to operate efficiently, and enhanced future development opportunities, an approach that was fully supported by the client.

“…a first class example of what collaboration can achieve, making seemingly difficult projects become achievable... I could not be more pleased.”

Nick Elliot, Regional Director for Network Rail Southern

Lessons Learnt

The ‘off-line’ construction and push launch of the bridge was a major feat of teamwork, planning and technical expertise, whereby the materials and fixing arrangements had to be designed and selected to take into account deflections during the launch stage for example. We are frequently consulted, in the UK and abroad, by stakeholders, rail operators, consultants and academics on the challenges faced when designing major infrastructure projects, and collaborating with multi-disciplinary teams.

East Croydon Bridge represent the first time a push launch across a live rail has ever been undertaken.


The primary bridge structure, a 400-tonne steel Vierendeel truss, was manufactured in 10 sections, for ease of transportation. The 6m-wide steel decks, to cantilever outwards from the central spine of the bridge are covered in a lightweight ETFE canopy. Coloured vitreous enamel panels are used to emphasise the lifts and aid way-finding, and the staircases are clad in ceramic green tiles to complement the utilitarian steel bridge structure.


High quality, low maintenance materials are used throughout the project to ensure good lifecycle and maintenance costs. For the canopy structure we used ETFE in place of glass wherever possible, due to its lower embodied energy, loads and cleaning requirements.

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