Gloucestershire

Gloucester canal bridge mobile phone app scheme halted

Sandfield Bridge
Image caption The trial at Sandfield Bridge began in 2015

A pilot scheme to allow bridges on a Gloucestershire canal to be opened via a mobile phone app has been halted after technical problems.

The Canal and River Trust unveiled plans in 2015 to convert 14 bridges on the Gloucester to Sharpness canal, currently operated by bridge keepers.

Problems created by poor weather conditions affected a trial of the remote opening of Sandfield Bridge.

The app has not been rolled out and the trust is reviewing the project.

The bridge in Saul can be opened remotely via a PC by the bridge keeper at Fretherne, 1 km (0.6 miles) away, and it can still be opened locally.

But the mobile app technology, which would have allowed boaters to open the bridge themselves, has not proved successful.

Some users have claimed swans flying under the bridge have affected the technology causing it to malfunction.

Image caption The technology to open the bridge has been affected by the weather

The trust's Rob Eaton said there had been "small scale trials" using the new system, but there had been a "mixed reaction" to it.

"The mechanical and supervision parts of the bridge are now pretty reliable with the occasional niggling irritation, but the app less so.

"It's been affected by things beyond our control such as weather conditions, wet screens and wi-fi range being reduced by the weather.

"We are regrouping to consider what's been good and less good about the trial, and how it might be refined and what we could do in the future."

The technology uses laser detection to identify objects on the bridge or in the water next to it to ensure it is safe for it to be opened.

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