Thursday, 29 August 2013

Strangers on a Train

     I'm someone who fears heights and I find it somewhat scary to think of travelling 100m by lift, up to the top of the south tower of the Forth Rail Bridge. But I don't think my personal fears, or phobias were likely to be considered when Network Rail proposed the new visitor centre and viewing platforms to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the bridge's opening in 2015.

The Forth Rail Bridge
    This magnificent metal structure designed by Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker opened March 4th 1890. Ten times the amount of metal to that of the construction of the Eiffel Tower was used to link our capital city Edinburgh, to Fife and the North of Scotland thereon, across the River Forth.

The Forth Road Suspension Bridge
    The bridge itself, as well as the road bridge which was opened in 1964, is important to the whole infrastructure of Scotland. Being the second longest single span cantilever bridge in the world;  it commands breathtaking views of the river, Inchcolm Island, its Abbey and I'm sure demand for the tours will outstrip supply.

View of Inchcolm Island through one of the cantilevers
     The Forth Rail Bridge was used for a scene in Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film, 39 Steps, an adaptation of Scottish writer John Buchan's book of the same name. Although it would have been befitting to the film Vertigo, the director's adaptation of Boileau-Narcejac's novel, D'entre les Morts. 

Train approaching Dalmeny Station, on the Edinburgh outskirts

        I think for some visitors it will be an adventure of a lifetime, but for me I'll be keeping my feet firmly on terra firma and I'll admire the scenery from below. That way I won't experience wobbly legs, dizziness, my hair being messed up by a hard-hat and I won't need to encounter any strangers on a passing train.

    Both Forth Rail and Road Bridges

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