Network Rail speaks out amid rise in low bridge crashes


It’s not just the “Beast from the East” that’s been causing travel chaos for road and rail users recently. In a statement released by Network Rail last month, a particular cause for concern was the number of incidents where low railway bridges have been struck by tall vehicles.

Over the course of 2016-17, it was noted that there had been 1,774 cases of lorries crashing into bridges – a rise of 32 from the previous year. Of these incidents, one particular bridge in Birmingham was affected 13 times in the space of a year, disrupting train services between Birmingham New Street and Staffordshire.

The reaction from Network Rail

The findings are understandably frustrating for Network Rail, using this statement to voice their disbelief that many drivers are seemingly unaware of their vehicle’s height or width. The company also urged lorry drivers to be extremely aware of warning signs at all times, with plenty of indicators in place well ahead of oncoming obstructions.

In addition to this, the chief operating officer for Network Rail’s London North Western division Mark Killick was more vocal on the matter. “There’s no excuse for this. Drivers should know their vehicle’s height and width, not guess and hope for the best.” He continued to state that such incidents were “irresponsible” and that Network Rail would reclaim incurred costs from fleet operators.

Advice for drivers and operators

It goes without saying that all commercial drivers should be aware of their vehicle’s dimensions and pay particular attention to warnings and notices of restrictions. While this is usually the cause of such incidents, others come down to drivers simply following given routes, not realising there are any obstructions ahead.

Trucking sat-navs are constantly being updated to calculate routes that would suit certain vehicles. It’s also vitally important that transport managers are just as aware of the problems and advise drivers as best as possible ahead of their journeys.

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