November 16, 2021 4.09 pm

Grantham rail bridge third “most bashed” in Britain

Network Rail said the bridge strikes drain public funds

A bridge in Grantham has been named as the third “most bashed” in Britain, according to data from Network Rail.

The bridge at Coddenham Road on the B1078 in Needham Market in Suffolk topped the list with 19 strikes in the last year.

Harlaxton Road bridge in Grantham was eighth in the list in 2020 and has since soared up to third, with 16 strikes in the last 12 months.

It was only last month that trains were delayed after a lorry crashed into the bridge on October 29, but fortunately nobody was injured in the collision.

The bridge at Barrowby Road in Grantham, which was 19th in the list last year, did not feature in the top 20 this time around.

| Photo: R.S. Mortiss

The lorry was visibly damaged by the crash. | Photo: R.S. Mortiss

Most struck railway bridges in Britain 2020/21

  1. Coddenham Road Needham Market, Suffolk – 19 strikes
  2. St John’s Street Lichfield, Staffordshire – 18 strikes
  3. Harlaxton Road Grantham, Lincolnshire – 16 strikes
  4. Stuntney Road Ely, Cambridgeshire – 15 strikes
  5. Bromford Road Dudley, West Midlands – 13 strikes
  6. Watling Street Hinckley, Leicestershire – 11 strikes
  7. Warminster Road Wilton, Wiltshire – 11 strikes
  8. Ipswich Road Manningtree, Essex – 10 strikes
  9. Thames Street Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey – 10 strikes
  10. Lower Downs Road Wimbledon, London – 10 strikes
  11. Newhouse Road/Long Drive, South Ruislip – 10 strikes
  12. New Smithy (Hayfield Road), Chinley – 8 strikes
  13. Station Road B4105, Berskwell – 8 strikes
  14. Mantle Road, Brockley – 8 strikes
  15. Malmesbury road, A429 – 7 strikes
  16. Chertsey Lane, Staines – 7 strikes
  17. Joshua Lane, Middleton – 7 strikes
  18. Anchor Road, Longton – 7 strikes
  19. Saltash Road/North Road, Plymouth – 7 strikes
  20. Abbey Farm, Thetford – 6 strikes

Bridge strikes reported across the railway network in the last five financial years are as follows:

  • 2016/17 – 1,878 strikes
  • 2017/18 – 2,039 strikes
  • 2018/19 – 1,926 strikes
  • 2019/20 – 1,720 strikes
  • 2020/21 – 1,624 strikes

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, chair of Network Rail, said: “Bridge strikes cause unnecessary delays, costs, and safety issues for road and rail users. To compound matters, they drain public funds which should be used on upgrading and improving our network.

“In recent years we’ve done a lot of work with partners across the industry to tackle the problem and whilst it’s encouraging to see numbers on the decline, there’s a lot more work to be done.

“With Black Friday and Christmas fast approaching, we urge professional operators and drivers to properly plan their routes, know the height of their vehicles and look out for road signs warning of oncoming bridges.

“Those who don’t are at risk of losing their driver’s and operator’s licences, and Network Rail looks to recover the entire repair and delay costs from the driver’s employer.”

Despite fewer trains and passengers on the rail network due to the coronavirus pandemic, bridge strikes still cost Network Rail more than £5.5 million in delay and cancellation fees in 2020/21. More than 1,600 bridges were hit across Britain over the last year.

In anticipation of a spike in incidents over Black Friday and the Christmas period, and an influx of newly qualified lorry drivers on Britain’s roads, Network Rail’s ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ is being rolled out. It reminds lorry drivers to check the height of their vehicles and plan their route in advance to avoid low bridges.

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