A MILESTONE has been reached in the development of the £10million Network Rail regional control and training centre in Basingstoke.

A 59-metre-long footbridge was transported to the Gresley Road site in three pieces and assembled at the top of the railway cutting. A giant crane then swung the 88-ton structure into place.

During the two-hour operation to secure the bridge into position, all train movements were stopped on the tracks.

Work on constructing the state-of-the-art Network Rail Basingstoke Campus began last September and, despite the recent poor weather conditions, it is progressing well towards the programmed opening in early 2015.

The new 3.5-metre-wide covered bridge, with lighting and CCTV cameras, will provide pedestrians and cyclists with a safe direct access between Basing View and Gresley Road.

It will allow Network Rail employees and the 300 trainees expected to visit the training centre every day, to easily access the town centre and railway station along with the new Waitrose and John Lewis at home combined superstore which will be built on Basing View.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is part-funding the cost of the bridge, as it will provide access to future additional parking spaces on the Gresley Road site for Basing View business park.

It is expected that the footbridge will open in early 2015, once work is completed on the main campus.

Councillor Ranil Jayawardena, the borough council’s deputy leader, said: “It’s impressive to see this new footbridge, spanning the railway, constructed so quickly.

“Having such an important regional facility here demonstrates Basingstoke’s key location on the rail network.

“This link to the heart of Basingstoke’s town centre business district Basing View marks another huge step forward in its regeneration and success story.”

Network Rail project manager Jeff Rose said: “The new Basingstoke campus represents a step change in the operation and maintenance of the railway infrastructure.

“It brings historically separate disciplines together into a purpose-built location, which is at the heart of the South Western railway.

“The new footbridge extends the principle of railway staff integration, allowing the campus users to easily integrate with the wider community.”