Network Rail has issued a plea for drivers to always check the height of their vehicles after a survey showed that 52% of lorry drivers do not take low bridges into account when planning their route and 43% said that they failed to measure their vehicle before a journey.
The increase in the number of large vehicles on the road in the run-up to Christmas coincides with an annual spike in the number of bridge strikes, with as many as 14 recorded in a single day on three separate occasions between October and December 2018.
In the last year alone, almost 2000 instances of vehicles striking railway bridges were reported across Britain.
Network Rail Chairman Sir Peter Hendy said: “It’s a very busy time of year for drivers of large goods vehicles, so it’s understandable there may be additional pressure to get to destinations on time, but there is no excuse to not know the height of your vehicle before starting your journey.”
Network Rail is working with a number of leading haulage companies and retailers to tackle the issue as part of the Wise Up, Size Up campaign, which aims to improve education and provide support to drivers to reduce the number of bridge strikes.
See www.networkrail.co.uk for more details of the campaign which is being supported by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
The Association’s Head of Road Network Management Policy, Malcolm Bingham, pointed out that striking a bridge can result in the offending business having to pay substantial bills to repair both the bridge and the vehicle, as well as compensation for any resulting train delays.
As well as facing these substantial bills, both the driver and operator also run the risk of losing their licences, he warned.
Indeed, the Traffic Commissioners in their recent annual report said that bridge strikes are at an unacceptable level and that regulatory action is “a real possibility” for those failing to take the necessary precautions.