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.
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.
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
|Rank||Route||Bridge ID||Location||OS Grid reference||Post Code||Total strikes Jan 2019 – Dec 2019|
|1||LNW||BJW3/90||Lichfield City||SK118090||WS14 9ET||28|
|3||LNW||RBS2/30||Sandwell & Dudley||SO992901||B70 7JD||24|
|7||SUS||BTH1/1205||Tulse Hill||TQ318730||SE27 9BY||15|
|12||EAN||LTN1/265||Needham Market||TM093546||IP6 8NT||12|
|13||LNW||NAJ2/1||South Ruislip||TQ111854||HA4 6TS||10|
|14||LNW||WBS3/1||Wigan Wallgate||SD576056||WN6 7DE||10|
Bridge strike champions
Our Route bridge strike champions take the lead in managing bridge strike risk locally and can be contacted as follows:
|Simon Woodfield||London North Eastern and East Midlands (LNE & EM)||Simon.Woodfield@networkrail.co.uk|
|Rob Stephens||London North Western (LNW)||Rob.Stephens@networkrail.co.uk|
|Stephen Delderfield||South East||civilsenquiriesSussex@networkrail.co.uk|
|Mark Wheel||National Lead||Mark.Wheel@networkrail.co.uk|
|National Bridge Strikes team||Generic email@example.com|