Network Rail has revealed the most-struck railway bridges in the country as it relaunches its ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ campaign to remind lorry drivers and haulage operators to know the height of their vehicles – and avoid hitting railway bridges.
The campaign will also urge hauliers to choose suitable routes before they head out on journeys.
The warning comes ahead of the annual Christmas shopping rush – traditionally a peak period for bridge strikes.
However, Network Rail is also aiming its attention to newly qualified lorry drivers that are expected on Britain’s roads this year to meet supply chain demands.
Bridge strikes still cost Network Rail more than £5.5 million
The organisation highlights that despite fewer trains and passengers on the rail network due to the Covid-19 pandemic, bridge strikes still cost Network Rail more than £5.5 million in delay and cancellation fees in 2020/21.
And more than 1,600 bridges were hit over the year, with the most bashed – Coddenham Road bridge in Suffolk – being struck 19 times.
The Coddenham Road bridge on the B1078 has the unflattering title of the most bashed bridge in Britain.
Located in Needham Market, the bridge was struck 19 times last year, amounting to £41,331 in unnecessary train delay and cancellation costs.
The other ‘big hitters’ on the list include St John’s Street bridge in Lichfield City, Staffordshire, and Harlaxton Road bridge, Lincolnshire – struck 18 and 16 times respectively.
‘Bridge strikes cause unnecessary delays’
The chairman of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy CBE, said: “Bridge strikes cause unnecessary delays, costs, and safety issues for road and rail users.
“To compound matters, they drain public funds which should be used on upgrading and improving our network.”
He added: “In recent years, we’ve done a lot of work with partners across the industry to tackle the problem and whilst it’s encouraging to see numbers on the decline, there’s a lot more work to be done.”
Over the next four weeks, reminders to ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ will feature on posters at motorway service stations across Britain, urging drivers to check the size of their vehicles and their routes before setting off.
Ensure haulage companies are provided with knowledge and tools
Network Rail’s 4E’s initiative – education, engineering, enablement and enforcement – aims to ensure haulage companies and their drivers are provided with the knowledge and tools they need to avoid striking bridges.
As part of this ongoing initiative, Network Rail has a team of bridge strike ‘champions’ covering each route across Britain, who raise awareness of the issue by visiting haulage companies and lead in managing bridge strike risk locally.
Sir Peter said: “We urge professional operators and drivers to properly plan their routes, know the height of their vehicles and look out for road signs warning of oncoming bridges.
“Those who don’t are at risk of losing their driver’s and operator’s licences, and Network Rail looks to recover the entire repair and delay costs from the driver’s employer.”