New campaign to reduce bridge strikes

Network Rail and Transport for London (TfL) are urging drivers to fully understand the size of their vehicles and plan their route to avoid low bridges.

The nation’s railways suffer almost 2,000 bridge strikes every year, which is an average more than five per day. Damage and delays from bridge strikes are costing the taxpayer some £23m annually. Network Rail has launched a new ‘bridge bash” campaign aimed at HGV drivers and haulage companies.

October and November are the peak months for bridge strikes, averaging almost 10 per day. Research suggests this could be due to the clocks changing back from British Summer Time to GMT, and increased deliveries ahead of Christmas. Figures show most bridge strikes happen between 10am and 11am, but remain high all day until around 6pm in the evening and can cause hours of travel chaos.

The same research has found that:

  • 43% of lorry drivers admit to not knowing the size of their vehicle
  • 52% of drivers admit to not taking low bridges into account when planning their journeys
  • Five bridge strikes happen across the country every day – with a peak of 10 per day in October
  • On average, each bridge strike costs £13,500 and causes two hours of delays to train services

Drivers and operators need to take responsibility

Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail and a driver of a double decker bus himself, explains: “Size does matter when you’re a professional driver in a heavy vehicle. Not knowing the size of your vehicle or load could lead to a serious accident, and the loss of your licence.

“Every incident creates potential delay for tens of thousands of passengers and potential costs for taxpayers, and this is happening multiple times a day.

“It’s only a matter of time before road or rail users are killed as a result of this carelessness; we need professional HGV drivers and their operator employers to get behind and support this campaign to eradicate bridge bashing, which reaches epidemic levels at this time of year.”

The most bashed bridge in Britain is Stuntney Road bridge in Ely, Cambridgeshire. It has been hit 113 times since 2009. Kenworthy Road bridge, in Homerton, comes a close second with 99 strikes in the last eight years. In third place is a bridge on Thurlow Park Road in Tulse Hill, which was also been struck 92 times in the same period.

Network Rail’s bridge bash campaign will involve:-

  •    Engaging the haulage and public transport industries
  •    Fitting steel beams on rail bridges where there are a large number of strikes to reduce the impact, resulting in less damage to infrastructure
  •    Working with local authorities to ensure road signs displaying bridge heights are correct and up to date
  •    Calling for stricter enforcement of penalties for drivers when strikes do happen

Barrow bridge strike (The Truck Expert)

Stuart Masson
Stuart Masson
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites, The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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