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Railway Dispute Hampers 1Gbps Fibre Broadband Rollout in Lancashire UK

Monday, Mar 4th, 2013 (8:31 am) - Score 1,754

A debate over costs between B4RN (Broadband 4 Rural North), which wants to run its “hyperfast” 1000Mbps (Megabits) capable fibre optic broadband (FTTH) cable over a railway bridge (viaduct) that crosses the River Lune in North Lancashire (England), and the state-owned Network Rail is threatening to delay the project.

The approximately 3 mile long fibre run (though it’s just 150 metres over the railway segment), which would help to connect Arkholme with its next core link in neighbouring Wennington across the river, is a vital part of B4RN’s phase one route at the top of their initial network map. But Network Rail, which maintains and develops Britain’s national rail network, perhaps understandably “wants a lot of money and a huge amount of regulation and red tape” in exchange for use of the bridge.

B4RN, which is a community-owned and not-for-profit organisation, admits that “commercial considerations and health and safety regulations have to apply in these kinds of situations“. It has also attempted, so far without much success, to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement with Network Rail (e.g. giving them access to B4RN’s network for its own purposes). Efforts to resolve the “major snag” are continuing but B4RN does have an alternative.

Christine Conder of B4RN said (blog):

A directional drill under the river is the only other way across, and it seems so daft with a great bridge there and very few trains using it these days. There is no connectivity on that line … we could maybe do some wifi for them or something? or even put some 3g transmitters along the route? Who knows what the future holds.

With a partner like them we could help each other become digitally enhanced. We still have steam trains on this route as the nearest station is probably Carnforth. Steam and fibre. What a combo!”

It should be said that work on the network hasn’t completely ground to a halt because B4RN can still shift its resources and continue the development on other parts of their infrastructure in the rural Lune Valley region. Never the less it would in theory be both quicker and cheaper to simply pass the cable along the bridge that already exists.. if only.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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