‘Irresponsible’ bridge-bash stupidity has got to stop

Network Rail today called for an end to the entirely avoidable stupidity of lorry drivers who crash into bridges because they don’t know the height of their vehicles.

The impassioned plea came after two ‘bridge strike’ incidents in the West Midlands yesterday (31 Jan) and two today 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 yesterday, 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.

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.

Today, two separate incidents in Langwathby, Cumbria, and West Ruislip, London, caused further unnecessary 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.

For more information on bridge strikes visit https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/looking-after-the-railway/bridges-tunnels-viaducts/risk-bridge-strikes/