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Bridge strikes are a significant risk to railway safety

A lorry turned on it's side after crashing into a bridge

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.

Graph showing yearly bridge strikes

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.

A bridge ID plate example for Oak Hill Overbridge
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 most 20 struck bridges in 2019/20. By raising the profile of these repeated strike incidents, it is hoped that the frequency of the strikes can be reduced.

RankRouteBridge IDLocationTotal strikes 2019/20 P01-P13
1LNWWNS/3Watling Street, Hinckley25
2LNWRBS2/30Bromford Road, Sandwell & Dudley24
3LNWBJW3/90St John's Street, Lichfield City23
4EANBGK/1568Stuntney Road, Ely19
5EANETN/1601Abbey Farm, Thetford16
6SUSBTH1/1205Thurlow Park Road, Tulse Hill14
7SCOEGS2/285/022Carlisle Road, Cleland13
8LNEECM1/243Harlaxton Road, Grantham13
9EANEMP/1816Stonea Road, Stonea13
10EANLTN1/265Coddenham Road, Needham Market11
11WEXBML1/2/29Lower Downs Road, Wimbledon11
12WEXBAE2/E4/248Warminster Road Bridge, Wilton10
13LNWWBS3/1Prescott Street, Wigan Wallgate10
14SCOGOU2/179/071Greenhills Road, Paisley9
15LNWNAJ2/1Newhouse Road – Long Drive, South Ruislip9
16EANDWW2/227Kenworthy Road Bridge, Homerton9
17WEXHOU/7/31St John's Road, Isleworth9
18WESMLN1/108/19Jews Lane, Twerton9
19LNEECM1/246Barrowby Road, Grantham8
20LNEECM1/102Cambridge Road, Hitchin8

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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