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  • Mark Salisbury

Network Rail urges lorry drivers to 'Wise Up, Size Up'

Updated: May 11, 2023

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.

A spokesperson for Network Rail said, “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.”

[caption id="attachment_73989" align="alignright" width="400"] West Midlands bridge strike[/caption]

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.

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


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

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