Monday 30 Oct 2017
North Ayrshire structure is Scotland’s most bashed bridge
A Dalry bridge is Scotland’s most bashed, with 57 lorries hitting the low Beith Road bridge since 2009.
The structure has also been revealed as the 16th most struck across the UK as Network Rail launches a new campaign to help HGV drivers stop striking railway bridges and causing needless disruption to rail and road users.
The railways suffer almost 2,000 bridge strikes every year costing the taxpayer some £23m in damages and delays across Britain.
In Scotland a bridge bash takes place on average once every two days and the five most struck structures in the country are Beith Road in Dalry (57), Carlisle Road in Cleland (55), A75 Dunragit (50), Cook Street in Glasgow (37) and Greenhills Road in Paisley (37).
'What the truck' and 'Lorries can't limbo' are just two of the eye catching straplines for Network Rail's new 'bridge bash' campaign aimed at HGV drivers and haulage companies.
Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail and a driver of a double decker bus himself, explains: "Size does matter when you're a professional driver in a heavy vehicle. Not knowing the size of your vehicle or load could lead to a serious accident, and the loss of your licence.
"Every incident creates potential delay for tens of thousands of passengers and potential costs for taxpayers, and this is happening multiple times a day.
“It's only a matter of time before road or rail users are killed as a result of this carelessness; we need professional HGV drivers and their operator employers to get behind and support this campaign to eradicate bridge bashing, which reaches epidemic levels at this time of year."
The end of this month (October) sees a peak in the number of strikes, rising to almost 10 per day. Research suggests this could be due to the hour change and increased deliveries ahead of Christmas. Figures show most bridge strikes happen between 10am and 11am, but remain high all day until around 6pm in the evening and can cause hours of travel chaos.
Research has found:
- 43 per cent of lorry drivers admit to not knowing the size of their vehicle
- 52 per cent of drivers admit to not taking low bridges into account when planning their journeys
- Five bridge strikes happen across the country everyday - with a peak of 10/day in October
- On average, each bridge strike costs £13,500 and causes two hours of delays to train services
Network Rail's bridge bash campaign 'What the truck' will involve:-
- Engaging the haulage and public transport industries
- Fitting steel beams on rail bridges where there are a large number of strikes to reduce the impact, resulting in less damage to infrastructure
- Working with local authorities to ensure road signs displaying bridge heights are correct and up to date
- Calling for stricter enforcement of penalties for drivers when strikes do happen.
Network Rail has been working across the industry, getting key players on board and banging the drum about the issue to stop strikes before they happen. The rail infrastructure company has already started to raise awareness of the issue by visiting logistics companies, as well as working with trade bodies such as the Road Haulage Association (RHA) to get the issue on the map.
Eddie Stobart, DHL and Wincanton have been key partners for Network Rail and have supported them in understanding the underlying issues and developing solutions.
David Pickering, Chief Operating Officer at Eddie Stobart, said: “We are pleased to be supporting Network Rail’s campaign as we have worked really hard to highlight the importance of our drivers knowing the height of their vehicles. As well as carefully planning routes to avoid low bridges, we carry out manual vehicle checks at the beginning of every journey which requires the driver to adjust the trailer height on a measurement in the cab. Additionally, we are installing software early next year which will warn drivers with an audible alarm when they are approaching a bridge. We have also tried some quirky ways of engaging drivers in the issue including our giant giraffe ‘Bridget’ in our Training Academy which serves as a constant reminder to our drivers of why they need to be bridge aware!”
Following months of research into why strikes happen, the campaign will be launched to all key players in the haulage industry calling on them to challenge their drivers to ‘check it, rather than chance it’ running until April next year.
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.