The cost of repairing a railway bridge hit by a skip lorry on 20 March has been put at £200,000.
Emergency repairs were needed after the lorry hit the bridge at Warwick Road in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, seriously damaging it.
The accident, which caused significant damage to the bridge’s central arch, forcing the temporary closure of the railway above and a much longer closure of the road below. The line above is a key freight route and temporary supports had to be installed to shore up the structure so as to get freight and passenger trains moving again.
Speed restrictions for trains had to be put in place while the repairs were carried out and the road was closed until they were complete.
This is not an isolated case. On average, five entirely avoidable railway bridge strikes take place every day across Britain, costing the taxpayer £23 million a year.
Research shows 43 per cent of lorry drivers admit to not measuring their vehicle before heading out on the road, while 52 per cent admit to not taking low bridges into account.
To combat this, Network Rail launched its ‘Lorries can’t limbo’ campaign, aimed at professional HGV drivers and others who drive high-sided vehicles. It includes online training and guidance in several languages to help drivers and logistics companies plan their routes to avoid bridge strikes.
Network Rail route asset manager Marc Vipham said: “Freight is critical to the nation’s response to the coronavirus crisis. Closing a key line for freight traffic has serious impacts delivering critical supplies to many key workers and institutions. For this very reason, our engineers worked rapidly to find a safe way to secure the bridge and keep the railway open.
“However, all of this hard work should have been unnecessary. Bridge strikes like this are entirely avoidable, cost taxpayers millions of pounds and cause delays to tens of thousands of rail passengers and freight every year.
“Lorries can’t limbo – I can’t stress enough how important it is for drivers to know the height of their vehicle.”