The first, ambitious and ill-fated, attempt to link Sodor with England via Barrow-in-Furness had been made by the Sodor and Mainland Railway. The Company's high hopes were disappointed. Their proposals for a bridge over the Walney Channel were persistently baulked by the Admiralty. Ironically, they later became the driving force behind the completion of the link to the Mainland.
The Vicarstown Bridge is a double tracked Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge of some 120ft span which is situated at Vicarstown and which carries the North Western Main Line. It connects Sodor to the Mainland at Barrow-in-Furness, crossing the Walney Channel. The bridge was designed by Sir Topham Hatt I and was erected in 1915. Since 1925, the NWR has had rights to run trains over the bridge to Barrow-in-Furness. Also since that year, the Other Railway has had Running Powers over the bridge to enable them to operate their share of the joint NWR/LMS/BR suburban service between Barrow and Norramby.
Until 1977, when the Jubilee Bridge was built, the NWR had the car-ferry rights over their bridge and worked an intensive and profitable service. When the road bridge was built to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee, Sir Topham Hatt saw to it that the NWR were given substantial compensation for the extinguishment of their ferry rights.
In the television series, the Vicarstown Bridge was introduced in the special, King of the Railway. It is frequently used by all the engines, especially Connor and Caitlin, who transport tourists from the Mainland to Ulfstead Castle on a regular basis, as well as Spencer and Hiro. The bridge was closed overnight in the seventeenth season episode, Calm Down Caitlin whilst it underwent some maintenance, it was blocked in the nineteenth season episode, The Beast of Sodor and was again under repair in the nineteenth season episode, Salty All At Sea.
When Gordon underwent an overhaul to be streamlined temporarily for the Great Railway Show, he refused to undergo the final safety checks and his safety valve was never reinstalled. Thomas, who had been badly damaged in a crash with Norman, was informed of this while he was being repaired at the Steamworks. Victor was unable to go, so Thomas, not fully repaired but in working condition, rushed to the Mainland to give Gordon his safety valve. Unfortunately, the bridge was being raised to let a ferry pass under it. Thomas, having no time to lose, ran up the raised bridge and jumped over the canal. He landed the jump, though he nearly derailed and he landed on the wrong track, having to avoid head-on collisions with Connor, Hiro and Sidney.
- The gates at either end of the bridge appear to change between yellow and red.
- While not structurally based off of it, the concept and location for the bridge was inspired by the Walney Bridge, its official title being Jubilee Bridge, which originates in Barrow-in-Furness and spans over the Walney Channel connecting England to Walney Island.
- In the Golden Book adaptation of The Great Race, it strongly resembles a green painted version of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with rails.