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

YearUnderline bridgesOverline bridges

Leave a comment for your chance to win £20 of John Lewis vouchers.

Every issue of Fleet News the editor picks his favourite comment from the past two weeks – get involved for your chance to appear in print and win!

Comment as guest

Login / Register


  • 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!

    Reply as guest

    Login / Register
  • 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.

    Reply as guest

    Login / Register
What's the tax liability on my van?

Calculate the BIK tax on any van on sale today with our van tax calculator

Track down the cheapest forecourts

Find the cheapest forecourts in your area with our van fuel price locator

How green is your van?

Check out the CO2 emissions for new vans with our CO2 calculator?