Network Rail campaign urges lorry drivers to help 'eradicate bridge bashing'

Hundreds of thousands of rail passengers will suffer delays in the coming weeks due to lorries hitting bridges, Network Rail said.

It revealed that bridge strikes peak in October and November, with around 10 incidents every day across Britain.

Almost 2,000 strikes are inflicted on rail infrastructure every year, costing taxpayers £23 million in damage repairs and delays, according to Network Rail.

The bridge suffering the most collisions is on Stuntney Road in Ely, Cambridgeshire, which has been hit 113 times since 2009.

This is followed by one on Kenworthy Road in Homerton, east London, with 99 strikes over the same period, and a bridge on Thurlow Park Road in Tulse Hill, south London, with 92 incidents.

On average each bridge strike causes two hours of delays to train services.

Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy, who used to drive double decker buses in London, said: "Size does matter when you're a professional driver in a heavy vehicle.

"Not knowing the size of your vehicle or load could lead to a serious accident, and the loss of your licence.

This lorry became stuck under a bridge in Cardiff
This lorry became stuck under a bridge in Cardiff (Network Rail/PA)

"Every incident creates potential delays for tens of thousands of passengers and potential costs for taxpayers, and this is happening multiple times a day.

"It's only a matter of time before road or rail users are killed as a result of this carelessness."

Network Rail has launched a campaign urging drivers and haulage companies to be aware of low bridges.

It is also fitting steel beams to high-risk bridges to reduce the impact of collisions.

A incident near Sandwell Station in the West Midlands
A incident near Sandwell Station in the West Midlands (Network Rail/PA)

The organisation believes bridge strikes peak from the end of October due to the clocks changing and the increase in the number of deliveries ahead of Christmas.

Most incidents occur between 10am and 11am, but continue all day until around 6pm.

Sir Peter said: "We need professional HGV drivers and their operator employers to get behind and support this campaign to eradicate bridge bashing, which reaches epidemic levels at this time of year."

David Pickering, chief operating officer at infrastructure firm Eddie Stobart, said: "We are pleased to be supporting Network Rail's campaign as we have worked really hard to highlight the importance of our drivers knowing the height of their vehicles.

"As well as carefully planning routes to avoid low bridges, we carry out manual vehicle checks at the beginning of every journey which requires the driver to adjust the trailer height on a measurement in the cab."

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