Bridge strikes are a significant risk to railway safety

On an average day, the drivers of at least five heavy goods vehicles and / or buses, put themselves, road users and the public travelling on the trains at risk. Research by Network Rail has found that 32% of drivers admitted to setting off whilst not being aware of the height of their vehicle with 56% not considering low bridges when planning their journey.

Bridge strike incidents can cause death or serious injury to road and rail users and have a serious impact on the operation of the railway, and road traffic.

After every incident the bridge needs to be examined to make sure it’s safe and any debris needs to be cleared. This can cause significant delays to both road and rail users as well as disruption to the affected community.

Below is a graph showing bridge strike figures annually, split between rail over road (underline), and road over rail bridges (overline), against HGV vehicle miles. It shows that whilst there has been some improvement in bridge strike numbers, there is still a long way to go in prevention of incidents.

Download yearly strike graph data (xlsx)

You can find out more in our bridge strikes: risks, consequences and costs PDF.

Reporting a bridge strike

If you are involved in, or witness, a bridge strike incident, it should be immediately reported to us using the telephone number on the identification plate fixed to the bridge.

This number will take you to the regional railway control centre, who will be able to take the appropriate actions.

If no plate is provided, the strike should be reported to the Police by telephoning 999. Strikes can also be reported to the Network Rail emergency helpline as a last resort on 03457 11 41 41.

An example of a bridge ID plate (please note the number is an example)

The cost of bridge strike

As well as potentially causing serious injuries and huge disruption, bridge strikes present a huge financial burden. The cost of a bridge strike includes not only repairs to the bridge and examination costs, but also includes compensation for train delays caused by an incident. 

In 2019, there were 1,787 bridge strikes reported. Of these strikes, there are 328 locations that received multiple strikes. The most costly single strike amounted to £1.8 million in train delay costs.

The table below shows the 20 most struck bridges of the previous year. By raising the profile of these repeated strike incidents, it is hoped that the frequency of strikes can be reduced.

Top 20 bridge strikes 2019

RankRouteBridge IDLocationOS Grid referencePost CodeTotal strikes Jan 2019 – Dec 2019
1LNWBJW3/90Lichfield CitySK118090WS14 9ET28
2LNWWNS/3HinckleySP406926LE10 0FL27
3LNWRBS2/30Sandwell & DudleySO992901B70 7JD24
4EANBGK/1568ElyTL543794CB7 4DY18
5EANETN/1601ThetfordTL866837IP24 1AU16
6WEXBML1/2/29WimbledonTQ239696SW20 8QG15
7SUSBTH1/1205Tulse HillTQ318730SE27 9BY15
8LNEECM1/243GranthamSK912357NG31 7AD15
9EANEMP/1816StoneaTL459933PE15 0DX14
10WEXBAE2/E4/248WiltonSU098317SP2 0FB13
11SCOEGS2/285/022ClelandNS811583ML1 5NX12
12EANLTN1/265Needham MarketTM093546IP6 8NT12
13LNWNAJ2/1South RuislipTQ111854HA4 6TS10
14LNWWBS3/1Wigan WallgateSD576056WN6 7DE10
15LNEECM1/246GranthamSK909362NG31 6PE9
16LNESMJ2/41FerrybridgeSE450150WF9 1AX9
17LNEECM1/102HitchinTL193298SG4 9UN8
18MIDGSM3/2SystonSK621118LE7 1GP8
19LNWWBS1/36WalkdenSD738026M28 7BQ8
20SCOGOU2/179/071PaisleyNS471648PA3 1RQ8

Bridge strike champions

Our Route bridge strike champions take the lead in managing bridge strike risk locally and can be contacted as follows:

Simon WoodfieldLondon North Eastern and East Midlands (LNE & EM)
Rob StephensLondon North Western (LNW)
Stephen DelderfieldSouth
Michael Mahoney
Mark WheelNational
National Bridge Strikes teamGeneric

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