Network Rail urges lorry drivers to ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ as Britain’s most-bashed bridges revealed: Oversized lorry railway bridge strike-2

Tuesday 16 Nov 2021

Network Rail urges lorry drivers to ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ as Britain’s most-bashed bridges revealed

Region & Route:
  • Despite fewer trains and passengers on the rail network due to the Covid-19 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 over the year, with the most bashed - Coddenham Road bridge in Suffolk - struck 19 times
  • 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, ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ campaign is being rolled out reminding lorry drivers to check the height of their vehicles and plan their route in advance to avoid low bridges

Network Rail has revealed the most-struck railway bridges in the country as it relaunches its ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ campaign, reminding lorry drivers and haulage operators to take better care by knowing the height of their vehicles and choosing suitable routes before they head out on journeys.

The warning comes ahead of the annual Black Friday and Christmas shopping rush – traditionally a peak period for bridge strikes – and as more newly qualified lorry drivers are expected on Britain’s roads this year to meet supply chain demands and fill the estimated 100,000 driver shortfall.* 

The Coddenham Road bridge on the B1078 has the unflattering title of the most bashed bridge in Britain. Located in Needham Market, Suffolk, the bridge was struck 19 times last year, amounting to £41,331 in unnecessary train delay and cancellation costs. The other “big hitters” on the list include St John’s Street bridge in Lichfield City, Staffordshire, and Harlaxton Road bridge, Lincolnshire - struck 18 and 16 times respectively.

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.”

Over the next four weeks, reminders to ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ will feature on posters at motorway service stations across Britain, urging drivers to check the size of their vehicles and their routes before setting off.

Network Rail’s 4E’s initiative - education, engineering, enablement and enforcement - aims to ensure haulage companies and their drivers are provided with the knowledge and tools they need to avoid striking bridges. As part of this ongoing initiative, Network Rail has a team of bridge strike ‘champions’ covering each route across Britain, who raise awareness of the issue by visiting haulage companies and lead in managing bridge strike risk locally.    

Notes to Editors

*Estimated driver shortfall from Road Haulage Association (RHA) survey of its members 

To find out more about how bridge strikes affect the rail network, click here.

To find out more about the ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ campaign, click here.

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

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

Year 2016/17 – 1,878 strikes

Year 2017/18 – 2,039 strikes

Year 2018/19 – 1,926 strikes

Year 2019/20 – 1,720 strikes

Year 2020/21 – 1,624 strikes

Contact information

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Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

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Charlie Oven
Senior media relations manager, campaigns
Network Rail

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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