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Railhub Archive
1996-10-15 RTK-001
Railtrack plc


Railtrack launches awareness campaign to stop “bridge bashing”

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Railtrack plc

Railtrack launches awareness campaign to stop “bridge bashing”

15 October 1996
source Railtrack plc
type Press release

Twice a day, somewhere in Britain, a lorry hits a Railtrack bridge spanning a public road.

In fact, for the past five-and-a-half years, 2,000 bridges have been hit 4,700 times. And not only by lorries. Double-decker buses, coaches and vans have all had a go as well.

The cost of bridge bashing, as it is commonly known, is difficult to establish. Railtrack spends around £5 million a year to carry out physical repairs, but it is the disruption to services which is the main concern. Lost time to both rail and road passengers, while the necessary safety checks are made, add millions to the total. Journeys are disrupted, appointments missed, tempers lost.

In 800 cases when a bridge has been struck, repairs have had to be carried out. In addition, materials have fallen from 600, rails displaced in another 30 and the highways blocked over 1,000 times.

Railtrack, who is responsible for all the railway's infrastructure, including bridges, has launched a major awareness campaign.

At the forefront is a 24-hour "Bridge Hotline" - 0345 003355 - into which drivers and haulage companies can call when planning routes, seeking details of low bridges or reporting damage.

Thousands of posters, leaflets and stickers, for vehicle cabs, are also being distributed throughout the country at transport cafes, motorway service stations, ports and alongside "notorious" bridges.

A survey has been carried out by Railtrack covering incidents since 1990 in order to gain a better understanding of the factors associated with bridge strikes and to formulate a method of reducing them.

The survey has shown that bridges in the West Country experienced the highest number of hits and the largest number of bridges affected. The Midlands came second.

The average number of hits per bridge is 2.5, although one in Swindon has been struck 82 times since 1990!

About 79 per cent of the hits occurred on roads with a 30 mph speed limit, 9 per cent on 60 mph and 4.4 per cent on 40 mph roads.

A little over half the bridges were the plategirder type (55 per cent), while the Arch type (21 per cent) came second. A significant majority (59 per cent) of the bridges were of a height between three and five metres. Lorries were responsible for 36 per cent of the strikes, vans eight per cent, articulated vehicles five per cent and skip carriers around four-and-a-half per cent.

Railtrack is testing various methods of reducing the strikes including the most effective use of warning signs, painting the front of bridges in various colours to attract drivers' attention and installing impact detection devices to quickly inform its control centre when a bridge has been struck. The work is being done in conjunction with the Deptment of Transport and the Railway Inspectorate.

Railhub Archive ::: 1996-10-15 RTK-001


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