NETWORK Rail is to carry out a £6 million refurbishment of a Victorian railway bridge in York to make it fit for another 120 years.

The project at the 'life-expired' Scarborough Bridge - which was built in 1875 - will involve replacing bridge decks and track, and installing a new walkway to improve safety for railway workers.

The company has revealed that trains between York and Scarborough will have to be replaced by buses during the school half-term from February 14 to 22 next year, while the new decks are installed from Marygate car park using a large crawler crane.

The footpath under the bridge and the footbridge attached to the rail bridge will also need to be closed at various times next February for safety purposes, although this will be kept to a minimum, and the River Ouse will need to be closed to river traffic at certain times as well.

The scheme will also involve the removal of some trees and vegetation from the railway embankment immediately north east of the bridge - to the annoyance of some residents.

Emma Walker, of Bootham Terrace, said about one third of the trees and vegetation alongside Marygate car park would be destroyed.

"The impact on the area will be devastating and a lot of trees subject to tree preservation orders will be lost," she claimed. "The application has been cloaked in secrecy and not well publicised.

"The destruction of this area of city centre woodland will be devastating on local wildlife and bird populations. The noise that will echo over the car park towards local properties from the railway will be significant as there will be no trees to absorb the noise, and indeed pollution from the trains."

But a Network Rail spokesman said trees would be replaced with a replanting scheme after the work finished next spring.

" A full ecological study has been carried out, and we have been consulting with local residents for a couple of months now," he said.

"We are still working with a tree specialist to minimise the impact upon vegetation and trees; and he and his experts are guiding us on the re-planting scheme."

He said Network Rail had been planning the work closely with City of York Council, the Canal and Rivers Trust, Natural England and Environment Agency, securing the necessary permissions.

A site compound will be based in Marygate car park and the project is due for completion next March.