Network Rail has relaunched its ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ campaign, reminding lorry drivers and haulage operators to take better care by knowing the height of their vehicles and choosing suitable routes before they head out on journeys.
The launch coincides with Network Rail revealing the most-struck railway bridges in the country.
The Coddenham Road bridge on the B1078 is most bashed bridge in Britain.
Located in Needham Market, Suffolk, the bridge was struck 19 times last year, amounting to £41,331 in unnecessary train delay and cancellation costs.
The other bridges on the list include St John’s Street bridge in Lichfield City, Staffordshire, and Harlaxton Road bridge, Lincolnshire - struck 18 and 16 times respectively.
The Network Rail warning to ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ comes ahead of the annual Black Friday and Christmas shopping rush – traditionally a peak period for bridge strikes – and as more newly qualified lorry drivers are expected on Britain’s roads this year to meet supply chain demands and fill the estimated 100,000 driver shortfall.
Sir Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail, 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.
“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.
Hendy continued: “With Black Friday and Christmas fast approaching, 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.”
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.
To find out more about the ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ campaign, click here.
Most struck railway bridges in Britain 2020/21:
- Coddenham Road Needham Market, Suffolk 19 strikes
- St John's Street Lichfield, Staffordshire 18 strikes
- Harlaxton Road Grantham, Lincolnshire 16 strikes
- Stuntney Road Ely, Cambridgeshire 15 strikes
- Bromford Road Dudley, West Midlands 13 strikes
- Watling Street Hinckley, Leicestershire 11 strikes
- Warminster Road Wilton, Wiltshire 11 strikes
- Ipswich Road Manningtree, Essex 10 strikes
- Thames Street Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey, 10 strikes
- Lower Downs Road Wimbledon, London, 10 strikes
Bridge strikes reported across the railway network in the last five financial years:
- Year 2016/17 – 1,878 strikes
- Year 2017/18 – 2,039 strikes
- Year 2018/19 – 1,926 strikes
- Year 2019/20 – 1,720 strikes
- Year 2020/21 – 1,624 strikes