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The risk of bridge strikes

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.

Bridge strike figures from 2000 to 2021

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. 

Between April 1 2020 and March 31 2021 there were 1,624 bridge strikes reported across the network.

The table below shows the top 10 most struck bridges in 2020/21. By raising the profile of these repeated strike incidents, it is hoped that the frequency of the strikes can be reduced.

#Bridge IDRouteLocationTotal strikes from P01 – P13 2020/21
1LTN1/265EANCoddenham Road, Needham Market 19
2BJW3/90CENSt John’s Street, Lichfield City18
3ECM1/243ECMLHarlaxton Road, Grantham16
4BGK/1568EANStuntney Road, Ely15
5RBS2/30CENBromford Road, Sandwell and Dudley13
6BAE2/E4/248WEXA36 Warminster Road, Wilton11
7WNS/3WCSA5 Watling Street, Hinckley11
8LTN1/226EANIpswich Road Bridge, Manningtree10
9BML1/2/29WEXLower downs Road, Wimbledon10
10RDG1/4/2WEXThames Street, Staines10

Bridge strike champions

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

Daniel BrookfieldLondon North Eastern and East Midlands (LNE &EM)
Rob StephensLondon North
Stephen DelderfieldSouth
Yvonne BoyleNational
National Bridge Strikes teamGeneric

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