New campaign urges drivers in West Yorkshire to be vigilant following bridge bashes

Network Rail is urging HGV drivers to stop striking railway bridges in West Yorkshire after it has been revealed that a railway bridge in Wakefield is one of the most hit in Great Britain.

The railway bridge on Denby Dale Road in Wakefield has been struck 24 times in the last five years and is 32nd on the list of Great Britain’s most bashed bridges- and it’s not the only bridge which is commonly struck; the rail bridge on Thornes Lane has also been hit 17 times.

When combined, strikes at these locations in the last five years have caused the equivalent of almost two and a half days of delays to road users and rail passengers.

Not only do bridge strikes cost valuable time for road users, the incidents in Wakefield alone have cost the tax-payer over £81,000 in damages and delays, with both bridges carrying a busy rail route from Leeds to Doncaster and Sheffield.

Worryingly, new research shows that 43% of lorry drivers admit to not knowing the size of their vehicle and over half of them do not take low bridges into account when planning their journeys.

Network Rail has launched a campaign to tackle the problem and has worked closely with the haulage and public transport industries to raise awareness of the issue and to stress the importance that drivers know the height of their vehicles and plan their routes ahead of time.

The campaign will be launched to all key players in the haulage industry calling on them to challenge their drivers to ‘check it, rather than chance it’ and will run until April next year.

Rob McIntosh, route managing director at Network Rail, said: “I’m sure many people in Wakefield and the surrounding areas will have experienced delays due to vehicles striking railway bridges and we appreciate just how frustrating this can be.

“Bridge strikes are completely preventable which is why we have teamed up with key transport industries to raise awareness of the problem and look at ways in which we can work together to reduce these incidents.

“Reducing these incidents means that we can improve journeys for passengers and ensure that we provide a network which meets the needs of the economies and communities our railway serves.”

David Pickering, Chief Operating Officer at Eddie Stobart, said: “We are pleased to be supporting Network Rail’s campaign as we have worked really hard to highlight the importance of our drivers knowing the height of their vehicles. As well as carefully planning routes to avoid low bridges, we carry out manual vehicle checks at the beginning of every journey which requires the driver to adjust the trailer height on a measurement in the cab. Additionally, we are installing software early next year which will warn drivers with an audible alarm when they are approaching a bridge. We have also tried some quirky ways of engaging drivers in the issue including our giant giraffe ‘Bridget’ in our Training Academy which serves as a constant reminder to our drivers of why they need to be bridge aware!”