Thursday 18 Aug 2016
New tools unveiled to tackle railway bridge strike hotspot in South London
A railway bridge over the South Circular that has been regularly struck by high vehicles, delaying thousands of passengers, has been given some new hi-tech and low-tech defences.
Network Rail, which owns the bridge, and Transport for London (TfL), which manages the road, have worked together with Lambeth Borough Council and local residents to install a detector system to spot vehicles that are too high to pass through the bridge at Tulse Hill.
Called Thurlow Park Road Bridge, its low height has meant it has been regularly struck by high vehicles, causing over 200 hours of delay to Southern and Thameslink passengers in the past 12 months.
Network Rail’s Mark Huband said: “The location of the bridge, which sits just off the end of the platforms at Tulse Hill, means that it is impossible to make the bridge any higher. Instead, we have worked hard with Transport for London to find a solution that will warn drivers and give them alternative routes.
“This detector system sets off electronic warning signs to alert drivers they need to stop or turn off the road before the bridge.
“We’ve also put extra signage on the bridge to warn of its low height, steel beams to protect it, and we have engineers based at the bridge during peak hours to inspect the bridge quickly should we need to.”
Dana Skelley, Director of Asset Management at TfL, said: “Ensuring our roads are safe and reliable is a top priority. These new electronic signs will ensure 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 has become a recurring issue.”
The technology uses sensors to spot vehicles that are too high to pass under the bridge and sets off a series of warning signs. There are six sets of electric warning signs which can be triggered by the system, along with signposted alternative routes, new signs on the bridge and around it.
Southern’s Passenger Services Director, Alex Foulds said: “Anything that prevents high-sided vehicles striking this bridge can only be of benefit to our passengers. Thurlow Park Road Bridge strikes have caused a huge amount of delays to our services, leading to disruption that has been felt across the network. We applaud Network Rail and TfL for coming up with the solution which I’m sure will help reduce the number of incidents.”
The electronic signs use energy-efficient lighting (LEDs) to ensure they use as little energy as possible. The installation and future maintenance costs have been shared by Network Rail and TfL. The systems are linked to TfL’s London Streets and Traffic Control Centre – the 24-hour heart of London’s roads. This means that the condition of the system can be remotely monitored and if a fault does occur it is raised immediately resulting in a rapid response.
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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.
Every day, there are more than 4.8 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.