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With more than 14,000km of track in the UK alone, rail has the scale and reach to connect people and place with low-carbon travel. The structures along the track play a crucial role not only in carrying the railway itself, but in defining its interaction with the landscape and surrounding communities.

Rail is critically important in achieving our net zero commitments. It is a complimentary partner to ‘first mile / last mile’ active mobility transportation, and helps removes freight from the road network.

Rail projects of all scales are increasingly required to demonstrate the widest range of benefits to the planet and the people they affect. How can asset managers and stakeholders realise considered, data-driven, and purposeful solutions that will serve communities for generations to come?

View of rail bridge crossing the River Irwell
Colne Valley viaduct visualisation crossing the water
Opladen Station lift with canopy above and bridge branching to the left and right

Safety & security

Shield with thumbs-up icon

Railway bridges typically form part of the ‘boundary’ between rail and public environments. As such, they must meet the stringent safety and security requirements of the railway, whilst also creating a safe, welcoming and enjoyable environment in the surrounding public realm.

The successful resolution of those two - often conflicting - requirements through innovative design thinking is the key to every railway project.


Tree, people and rail track

Rail corridors often travel through a diverse series of neighbourhoods, all with individual characteristics and landscapes. Yet the design of railway structures often leads to demands for consistency and repetition throughout the corridor.

Network Rail’s ‘Principles of Good Design’ recognises this dual challenge to achieve design excellence. Our adaptable design response produces structures which are understood and welcomed by stakeholders while securing the benefits of standardisation and Offsite Construction. In doing so, the identity of the rail transitions from an inward-looking ‘closed’ system, towards an integrated placemaking asset that communities can be proud of.

Speed, scale & severance

Map with magnifying glass

Rail corridors are experienced at different speeds and scales, ranging from the ‘up close and fast’ train passenger view, through to the ‘distant and static’ view experienced by a nearby resident. Rail structures must respect the needs of both with a people-first approach to design.

In recognising both speed and scale challenges, rail corridors can embrace the urban realm rather than pushing it away. They can maximise the connectivity of the rail and minimise severance across it, creating equitable outcomes.

Adding value from the outset

Design thinking should start at the beginning of a project and continue until the end. It is a creative response that is influenced by everything that comes before it.

Knight Architects’ innovative design leadership asks the right questions from the outset, helping to shape the direction of the project and leading sensitive and efficient solutions.