The chance to climb the Forth Bridge in South Queensferry is a challenge that the public would relish.
Almost 2500 people responded to a recent Network Rail survey which invited opinions on proposals to open up the bridge for visitors.
The Forth Bridge Experience is a proposed multi-million pound development which would enable it to become one of Scotland’s major landmark tourist attractions.
Network Rail recently revealed spectacular images, created by Queensferry firm WTArchitecture, showing two visitor centres on either side of the iconic structure.
The plans also included a viewing platform on top of the bridge, accessed from North Queensferry with the opportunity to take a guided walk to the top of the bridge from South Queensferry.
Network Rail also carried out detailed market research to support the development of a visitor’s experience at the Forth Bridge.
And almost 2400 online questionnaires completed in just 10 days, the study was the most in-depth consumer research carried out into a potential visitor attraction at the Forth Bridge.
The results are seen as extremely encouraging for the team developing the proposals, with 94 per cent of respondents declaring that they were interested in an attraction at the Forth Bridge which would allow them to visit the top of the structure.
Although 68 per cent of respondents were based in Scotland, there was a strong interest from other parts of Britain and Ireland, who accounted for almost a quarter of people taking time to complete the survey. Almost 200 respondents were from overseas, with 38 countries represented in the results.
In addition to visiting the top of the bridge, 95 per cent of respondents were enthusiastic about visitor centre proposals in North Queensferry.
David Dickson, acting route managing director for Network Rail Scotland said: ‘‘The survey results will be used to further inform the study group which has been established to take forward proposals at the Forth Bridge. While these results are further affirmation that there is public interest in these proposals, there is still a lot of work to do before we can confirm our preferred option.
“We know that traffic, travel and parking are the biggest potential issues for us to manage and we’re currently undertaking further research to establish the best possible solution for this particular challenge.
“We are also continuing to work with our partners at the Forth Bridge Forum to ensure that these plans fit with broader aspirations for the three bridges area.”
*With the Forth Bridge set to celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2015, it is hoped the visitor centres could be open by then. To see the proposals, go to www.forthbridgeexperience.com