Bridge restrictions & operational changes

Following the temporary suspension of boat transits through Twechar and Bonnybridge lift bridges on the Forth & Clyde Canal, we’re have undertaken further technical investigations. Updates on both bridges, as well as the outcome of our inspection of the bascule bridge in Knightswood, can be found below.

This page also contains important information on changes to navigational arrangements of the Lowland Canals.

This page will be updated with further information as it becomes available.

Update 12 October 2018

Following the £1.625 million of additional funding from the Scottish Government, we are now able to carry out the works to both Bonnybridge and Twechar Bridges. Contractors have been engaged and installation works are scheduled for January/February 2019 with testing of both bridges commencing in March 2019. The aim is to have all works completed and both bridges operational by April 2019.

Update 28 June 2018

The Scottish Government has announced an additional £1.625 million funding for Scottish Canals, to enable repairs and improvements to Bonnybridge and Twechar bridges on the Forth and Clyde Canal. Read more here.

Update 15 June 2018

Our engineers have managed to carry out some impressive work recently which enabled a controlled operation of Bonnybridge and Twechar. This required 10 engineers and technicians to be redeployed from other planned priorities elsewhere across the business. Thanks to the teams efforts, the successful works mean we can now open both Bard Avenue bascule bridge and Twechar lift bridge up to once per month on the following days:

Bard Avenue (between 10am and 2pm) on:

  • Thursday 21st June
  • Thursday 19th July
  • Thursday 23rd August
  • Tuesday 28th August
  • Thursday 27th September
  • Thursday 17th October

Twechar Bridge (between 9am and 3pm) on:

  • Sunday 10th June
  • Wednesday 20th June
  • Friday 22nd June
  • Wednesday 18th July
  • Friday 20th July
  • Wednesday 22nd August
  • Friday 24th August
  • Monday 27th August
  • Wednesday 29th August
  • Wednesday 26th September
  • Friday 28th September
  • Wednesday 16th October
  • Friday 18th October

We have ensured these dates allow enough time for boaters to travel to the various festivals and events that are being held on the Forth & Clyde Canal, including the 250th Anniversary Flotilla from the Stables in Kirkintilloch to Auchinstarry Marina (10th June), Kirkintilloch Canal Festival (25th & 26th August) and Glasgow Canal Festival & Youth Urban Games (25th August).

Please be aware that all bridge openings will be subject to demand and you must book your transit through the bridges at least 48 hours in advance. If there are no bookings made for these dates the bridges will remain closed until the next scheduled opening. To make a booking please call Boat Movements on 07810 794 467.

Please note that Bonnybridge Bridge will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Due to safety reasons, it can’t be opened to boating traffic until significant works are carried out and while we continue to seek funding, investment simply is not available within Scottish Canals’ budget at present, from the Scottish Government or through third party funders. We hope to be able to update on the Robert Whitworth Bridge soon.

We have also reviewed customer feedback regarding the opening times at Bowling sea lock and we will now make the following changes: we will facilitate sea lockings 4 days a week on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, we will be flexible as to the times.  We will be using the tidal hours to guide the times the team will be on-site – ie, we will provide 7 hours of customer service (between 0800 and 2000 hours) but the start time and end time will be influenced by the tide, early tide early start time etc.

In addition to the published customer service days, I am happy to inform you that Scottish Canals will be providing staff to carry out boat movements at Bowling on the 2 remaining Bank holidays within the season. Following the end of the season, as agreed we will review this trial period and let you know plans for next year. We will always ensure that staff are available on these Holiday Mondays to operate the sea lock for any boats that have given the appropriate notice via the Boat Movements telephone line (as outlined above).  We will be covering the following holiday Mondays:

  • Glasgow Fair Monday (16th July)
  • September Fair Monday (24th September)

Update 30 April 2018

Following our investigations on the 23 and 24 April, we are able to report that:

  • the bascule bridge at Bard Avenue in Knightswood will be opened on Friday 4 May 2018 with boats leaving Bowling at 9am sharp
  • Twechar Bridge will be opened at 10am on Sunday 6 May as part of a restricted opening – we hope to deliver monthly openings but will confirm this at a later date
  • Bonnybridge Bridge will be opened only once at 2pm on Sunday 6 May – we will not be able to open it again until funding can be identified for a longer term fix and therefore would encourage customers to consider whether they need to take advantage of this date in order to plan where they need to be in the medium to long term

These openings will provide enough time for customers to travel from Bowling to Bonnybridge and beyond should they wish to do so. Anyone wishing to travel from east to west should consider transiting through Bonnybridge on the 6 May as we will be able to open Twechar at a later date – for example around the Kirkintilloch Canal Festival.

We would ask all customers wishing to transit through the bridges on these dates to ensure their boat is serviceable and competently crewed by a minimum of two people. We will halt operations if we consider it unsafe to continue.

The vibrancy of the waterspace is important to the continued growth of the Lowland Canals and we will be working with the Scottish Government and partners to identify the necessary investment to get these bridges back into operation as quickly as possible.

Update 19 April 2018

Detailed technical investigations of Bonnybridge and Twechar bridges are planned for 24 and 25 April 2018. This will allow us to determine the scale of repairs required and work up solutions to bring these bridges back into use as quickly as possible.

We have been looking into whether it was possible for the bridges to be operated safely on a single day, using cranes and other lifting equipment, in order to get anyone affected by the restrictions to where they need to be. We have provisionally set the date for this one-off opening as 6 May 2018.

However, please note that this is dependent on our investigations showing that this one-off opening can be conducted safely. We will contact all customers as we can confirm the date and will ensure those boaters affected by the restrictions of the bascule bridge at Knightswood have sufficient time to transit to Bonnybridge and Twechar for that date.

At this stage, we are hopeful we will be able to implement a short-term fix to allow occasional operation of the bridges while we try to source the funding needed for long-term repairs. We will continue to work with our partners and stakeholders, including our sponsor team at Scottish Government, throughout this process.

Update 6 April 2018

Detailed investigations of the bridges are planned for later this month in order to determine the scale of repairs required and allow us to work up technical solutions.

We are confident we will be able to implement a short-term fix to allow occasional operation of the bridges while we work to source the funding necessary for long-term repairs.

Twechar Lift Bridge

We will carry out a detailed investigation that, if all goes well, could lead to a short-term repair. While we will not have the necessary resources for a comprehensive repair these works may allow us to safely operate the bridge for this season on a limited basis and subject to health and safety. Works are due to start in approximately three weeks and should be complete by mid-April.

Bonnybridge Lift Bridge

We will explore an approach that will either allow the bridge to open on a one-off basis or on very rare occasions. It is unlikely we will find a solution that allows normal use until additional funds are available, however, these works will ensure that any boat owner who is currently affected can move to a different location should they wish to do so.

Bascule Bridge, Knightswood

We will also be temporarily suspending the bascule bridge at Bard Avenue on the Forth & Clyde Canal near Knightswood for safety reasons. Earlier inspections had shown that all the bascule bridges on the Lowland canals require some improvement works, although this particular bridge was in the worst condition. We had committed money in our 2019/20 budget to make improvements, however a recent inspection has shown that, while it is safe for pedestrians to use, its condition has further deteriorated and is currently not safe to operate. We will work with partners to raise the necessary funds for repairs to be carried out.

Operational changes

A review of boaters’ patterns of using the Lowland canals shows that certain days and times are more popular than others and that if we refine our customer service we can free up our staff to undertake much needed maintenance work on the canals.

With 50 sea to sea transits last year on the Lowland canals and the temporary suspension of Bonnybridge and Twechar lift bridges affecting navigation, it makes good business sense to trial a different way of operating this year. This forms part of wider review of the way Scottish Canals can best meet customer demand with the resources available to us which also includes the proposed move to user operations on the Lowland canals in 2019.

The new operational times and method of operating for each area, effective from 1 May 2018, are listed below.

On the days and times that are green on the timetable a member of staff will be available to provide the range of customer services at that location. In 2019 we plan to introduce a web-based booking system which will make it easier for customers to book in advance.

We will operate this as a trial for the 2018 season, reviewing and adapting, where suitable, in line with boater feedback. Outwith the times shown on the schedule, we will do our best to accommodate extraordinary requests, for example vessels that wish to attend a canal festival or flotilla but this will be done with the resources available.

We believe we have reflected customer demand in the times and days that are listed below. However, if you think the times proposed for this trial do not accurately reflect historic patterns of customer use in your location, please let us know by emailing Paula Carson via paula.carson@scottishcanals.co.uk.

Download a printable PDF of the updated operational hours here.

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