Hi-tech warning signs at South London railway bridge reduce bridge strikes by a third and cut delays to trains: Thurlow Park warning sign

Wednesday 8 Mar 2017

Hi-tech warning signs at South London railway bridge reduce bridge strikes by a third and cut delays to trains

South East

The number of lorries hitting the notorious Thurlow Park Bridge over the A205 South Circular Road in Tulse Hill, London, has fallen by more than a third since new smart warning signs were introduced last summer, reducing delays to rail passengers and motorists.

Previously the bridge was being hit almost twice a month on average, making it the second-most struck railway bridge in Britain. Network Rail engineers have to close the line for a safety inspection each time, leading to delays for Thameslink and Southern passengers.

The new system, which detects vehicles that are too high and sets off electronic warning signs, has slashed the number of incidents in the past six months to just seven — and only one in the last four months.

Mark Huband, Network Rail route asset manager, said: “Every time a lorry hits this bridge it causes disruption to thousands of passengers on one of London’s busiest rail routes – so it’s great to see the investment which has been made here is already making a difference. With a railway network as busy and complex as ours, knock-on delays can spread very quickly.

“By working with Transport for London, we’ve been able to reduce delays to Southern and Thameslink passengers and motorists too.”

Dana Skelley, Director of Asset Management at TfL, said: “Ensuring our roads are safe and reliable is a top priority.  These hi-tech warning signs have been ensuring road users know the height restrictions of the bridge - helping reduce disruption caused by the actions of some HGV drivers who seem to not notice traditional signs. I’m pleased that we’ve been able to work so closely with Network Rail to achieve this novel solution to what had become a recurring issue.”

The new system detects vehicles that are too high and sets off electronic warning signs. The signs use energy efficient lighting (LEDs) and the system is linked to TfL’s London Streets and Traffic Control Centre.  Extra standard warning signs and steel beams to protect the bridge were also installed last year. Network Rail has also stationed engineers close by during the morning and evening rush hours so they can quickly check the bridge if it is struck, reducing delays when incidents occur.

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