There are five bridge strikes happening every day due to truck drivers failing to properly plan route to suit their vehicle’s size. A single incident can cost Network Rail around £13,500 to fix. Here, we go into detail about the different causes of bridge strikes, what you should do if it happens to you and Network Rail’s protocols.
Causes of bridge strikes
A truck may be able to travel under a bridge at first, but along the way the height decreases resulting in the vehicle and bridge coming into contact. This could lead to a vehicle being stuck underneath the bridge as well as causing damaging due to scraping.
Some trucks may tow trailers that are a different height to the vehicle, or switch trailers over the course of a day so if the driver is not aware of the height difference and does not plan a suitable route, chaos is imminent.
Carrying equipment of different heights
Towing a trailer of equipment of differing heights - for example, construction gear - can cause an incident if you don’t know what the highest point of the vehicle is.
Carrying on regardless
Continuing to drive through a low bridge after striking it is more trouble than it’s worth, as it’s proven in the video below with a truck getting stuck.
What to do if you hit a bridge
If your vehicle does strike a bridge, the incident needs reporting to Network Rail immediately by calling the number on the identification plate fixed to the bridge. If a bridge does not have an identification plate, the strike should be reported to the police.
If possible, the following information should be provided:
- Date and time of the incident
- Bridge identification or location
- Whether the bridge is over the road or the railway
- Any known hazards or if people are trapped
- Whether the vehicle is wedged underneath a bridge
What happens after striking a bridge
Once an incident has been reported to Network Rail or the police, train movements may be stopped while the bridge is examined and any necessary actions to maintain safety are taken:
- If the integrity of the bridge is not compromised, train movements may return to normal
- If a vehicle is wedged underneath the bridge or is on fire, train movement will be stopped until the vehicle is removed
- If the damage to the bridge has compromised its integrity, train movements will be halted until the bridge is repaired and the road will be closed
If train movements have been stopped, they can only recommence if:
- a Bridge Strike Nominee (BSN) authorises train movements;
- the condition of the bridge does not affect the ability to carry trains and the safety of road vehicles and pedestrians travelling under the bridge can be guaranteed;
- it has been confirmed that the damage to the bridge has been repaired.
Following the incident, the Highway or Road Authority will review whether any improvements need to be made to the road traffic signs on the approaches to, and at, the bridge, and the visibility of existing signs by removal of obstructions, such as vegetation.