Network Rail labels truck drivers ‘stupid’ for bridge crashes

bridge strike, truck hits low bridge, truck bridge crash, Network Rail bridge strike.

Network Rail is calling for an end to what it says is the “entirely avoidable stupidity” of lorry drivers who crash into bridges because they do not know the height of their vehicles.

It comes after two ‘bridge strike’ incidents in the West Midlands on Wednesday (January 31) and two yesterday (February 1) in Cumbria and West London, all of which caused hours of delays to train customers and motorists.

In the first incident in the West Midlands, shortly after midday, the lorry driver was lucky to escape unscathed after he smashed into the bridge on Summer Road in Erdington, Birmingham, before overturning. This despite clear signs showing the bridge's height.

Erdington bridge strike

Trains on the Cross City Line north, between Birmingham New Street and Lichfield, Staffordshire, were disrupted for hours and local roads well into the evening.

Trains on the route were further impacted when another lorry crashed into railway bridge on St John’s Street, Lichfield, just after 5.30pm. This bridge was struck 13 times in 2016/17.

Then yesterday, two separate incidents in Langwathby, Cumbria, and West Ruislip, London, caused further delays to passengers and motorists while Network Rail investigated for any damage before fully reopening the lines.

Mark Killick, chief operating officer for Network Rail's London North Western route, said: “There’s no excuse for this. Lorry drivers should know their vehicle's height and width - not guess and hope for the best.

"Despite being very clearly marked, these bridges were driven into by irresponsible drivers causing unnecessary disruption to railway and road-users. We will be doing all we can to reclaim the costs we incurred from the haulage companies responsible.”

When a lorry ‘bridge strike’ occurs, Network Rail’s structural engineers always need to check the bridge is safe before train services can resume.

The latest bridge strikes come despite Network Rail’s recently launched ‘What the Truck’ campaign, aimed at getting lorry drivers to know their vehicles’ heights and choose road routes accordingly.

Reported bridge strikes

Year Underline bridges Overline bridges
2000/01 1613 111
2001/02 1678 100
2002/03 1914 122
2003/04 1898 142
2004/05 2020 152
2005/06 1890 146
2006/07 2020 126
2007/08 2161 143
2008/09 1736 115
2009/10 1439 113
2010/11 1593 98
2011/12 1541 80
2012/13 1544 101
2013/14 1708 101
2014/15 1670 140
2015/16 1606 136
2016/17 1665 109

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  • Les Hammond - 05/02/2018 10:31

    Agree with Network Rail but how many companies have the vehicle height shown in the Lorry cab, where a driver is moving between several vehicles (including Vans), the likelihood of this type of incident is increased!

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  • reg - 17/08/2018 11:31

    I think it unlikely that motorway bridges are punished at the same rate/lorry passing as rail bridges which suggests that the basic problem is down to the rail bridges being in general too low.

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