Forth Bridges Forum - Meeting 43 - Minutes - 26 April 2022

Forth Bridges Forum logo


  • Stewart Leggett (SL) Chair - Transport Scotland
  • Mike Dineen (MD) - Transport Scotland
  • John Andrew (JA) - ICE Consultant / Transport Scotland
  • Sarah Duignan (SD) - Network Rail         
  • Miles Oglethorpe (MO) - Historic Environment Scotland
  • Karen Stewart (KS) - Forth Bridges Area Tourism Strategy Manager
  • Ken Gourlay (KG) - Fife Council
  • Chris Tracey (CT) - BEAR Scotland
  • Chris Waite (CW) - BEAR Scotland     
  • Stewart Lothian (SLO) - Network Rail
  • Alastair Macfarlane (AM) - Network Rail

Welcome and introductions

Stewart Leggett introduced himself as the new Chair of the Forth Bridges Forum and welcomed all attendees to Meeting 43

Stewart Lothian introduced himself as Regional Asset Manager (Structures) at Network Rail

Alastair Macfarlane introduced himself as Head of Engineering on Scotland’s railways at Network Rail.

Apologies, Minutes of Previous Meeting and Actions

Apologies received from: Scott Lees

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 25 January were approved as an accurate record.

Action points were reviewed and updated as follows: 

  • Action 21.2: Reminder to send updated events information to Gillian Laurie
  • Action 40.1: Replacement of banners in car park at FRB is under way with BIG Partnership – aiming for installation mid-June at latest
  • Action 42.6: Agreed to invite subscribers to FBF newsletter to subscribe to new BEAR Scotland list, as existing list cannot be transferred due to data protection – CW to progress with BIG.


MD provided an update on the latest Scottish Government advice on the advisory wearing of facemasks

Tourism Update

KS provided an update on activities to support the Forth Bridges tourism strategy:

Signage strategy: Paul Hogarth has been appointed as consultant and contractor. Planning applications to CEC and Fife council are to be progressed.

Social media: Audience reach is up significantly on both Facebook and Instagram since the relaunch of these channels to support the tourism strategy. KS highlighted key posts from the last quarter, noting that a lot of comments were received on a post about the CAV trial.

FB website: A tender process is under way for the website refresh and discussions are ongoing with one potential supplier to ensure all costs are covered.

An in-person meeting with local tourism businesses is planned on 5 May at Orocco Pier in South Queensferry.

KS advised that cruises will be returning to the Forth this year.

World Heritage Management Group Update

MO explained resource was needed to help meet UNESCO periodic reporting requirements and proposed revisiting the work undertaken on so far on the Co-ordinator role, working with Network Rail to agree resourcing going forward through the Forth Bridge Forum as a core element of the World Heritage Management Plan.

AM expressed long term commitment to providing role within NR but explained that it will be difficult to do this quickly, therefore a solution through the Forum is required in the shorter term. MO explained other models exist.

Action: It was agreed that Historic Environment Scotland. Network Rail and Transport Scotland should work together to define a memorandum of understanding as to how the World Heritage Co-ordinator role will be resourced and managed.

Forth Bridges Forum Update

Attendees were reminded to email Gillian with updates for the events planner

MD advised that a public meeting is to be arranged on a date to be confirmed in June or July, probably on a Tuesday evening. MD explained there were problems with purely a purely virtual event. SD suggested a hybrid approach. MD and SL agreed to discuss separately.

A Forth Bridges Forum newsletter is also to be produced, providing an opportunity to answer questions that can’t be answered at the public meeting.

MO advised that he has arranged to meet with Keith Giblett from Queensferry & District Community Council in person, in advance of a Teams meeting to be arranged with CEC and TS.

CW advised that BEAR Scotland will be holding a liaison meeting with QDCC and NQCC on 9 May.

Queensferry Crossing and Forth Road Bridge Update

CT provided an update on maintenance and operation of the road bridges:

Forth Road Bridge: Both carriageways were kept available over winter in case they were needed as diversion route, however this ends next week. A number of new maintenance schemes are planned:

  • Bearing replacement on side towers – contraflow will be required for extended periods
  • Next phase of under deck access improvement scheme
  • Completion of viaduct resurfacing towards end of summer/early autumn

Queensferry Crossing: Following wind tunnel tests, there were positive results for machine cleaning as a method of mitigating ice accretion. All the stays on QC will therefore be machine cleaned prior to next winter. Further lab testing is planned on one type of coating and to get more information on the impact of cleaning the stays, with a narrowed focus on the most beneficial options.

BEAR Scotland is also looking at improving connections between the bridges. An appropriate automated barrier system has been identified, which will make it much quicker and safer to transfer traffic. This is at an advanced design stage, with the early procurement process started. The global shortage of electronic components means the barriers may not be fully automated this year, however BEAR Scotland is aiming to have semi-automatic barriers in place for this winter.

There is also investment in new technology to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting. Existing technology has not missed any events but generates a lot of false positives. The new system appears to be more accurate and will run in tandem over next winter.

Pedestrian counters on FRB that are not currently working are expected to be operational again within the coming month.

Communications Group Update

Forth Bridges website – KS provided update, see item 4.4

CW advised that in January 2022 we started reporting website statistics on a full calendar year basis, in order to provide more meaningful and useful analysis – a full report with year-on-year comparisons will be presented to the meeting in January 2023.

Network Rail Update

SD advised that the revised planning application for the Forth Bridge Experience was submitted to City of Edinburgh Council in January, and the project team held an early engagement exercise with potential contractors in April.

Network Rail now await the date of the CEC planning committee – potentially June. It is hoped there will be an outcome by the next Forth Bridges Forum meeting. Nine objections and three expressions of support have been received so far.

Another Barnardos “Your View” charity event featuring trips to the top of the Forth Bridge is expected to take place in September, on a smaller scale than the 2019 event.

MO asked about proposal to decorate Dalmeny station with interesting images. SD said she was happy to be involved in any dialogue on this. The station is operated by Scotrail so there needs to be tripartite conversation. SLO advised that this should be easier now Scotrail is in public ownership. JA advised of ongoing ambition to make more of Dalmeny station as a gateway to all three bridges.

Any other business

MD provided an update on the CAV trial, which has now begun over the public transport corridor across the Forth Bridges:

  • Project CAV Forth aims to provide a globally significant demonstration of UK autonomous bus capability along a 14-mile route from Fife to Edinburgh
  • CAV Forth is being delivered by a Project Partners Group which includes Transport Scotland. The other partners are:
    • Fusion Processing (CAV systems and Lead Partner)
    • Stagecoach Buses (Public Transport Operator)
    • Alexander Dennis Ltd (Bus manufacturer)
    • Bristol Robotics Laboratory (Simulations)
    • Edinburgh Napier University (Research)
  • The objective of the project is to deliver a 6-month autonomous bus service between Ferrytoll Park and Ride and Edinburgh Park Train and Tram interchange. The service will be fully timetabled and carry fare paying passengers. The service will operate via the public transport corridor across the FRB, and also utilise a new constructed Actively Managed Hard shoulder for buses on the M8 between J2 Claylands and J1 Hermiston Gate.
  • In the run up to the trial, from next week onwards, fully liveried buses will be operating on the route (without passengers) to capture key on route data. These buses, as with the live service, will have a safety driver on board at all times.
  • These activities and driver training (over the summer period) will continue for a number of months as part of the preparations for the commencement of the live service.
  • The live bus service is expected to commence later this year. Further information, including a full media campaign, about the timeline and service will be provided in due course.
  • TS is delivering a programme of engagement with key stakeholders in the run up to, during and after the trial. This includes with Fife Council, who they met earlier this month to provide a project update.

MO suggested that Scottish Government Ministers Angus Robertson and Neil Gray are copied into a briefing on the work of the Forth Bridges Forum being put together for Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth.

Action: Angus Robertson and Neil Gray to be copied into Ministerial briefing

Date of next meeting: 26 July 2022

Published Date 28 Jul 2022 Type Mode of transport