The bridge that carries the Ely to Peterborough rail line over Stonea Road in Cambridgeshire is one of the most heavily struck bridges in the country.
It was the second most-hit bridge in the country in 2018. It slipped to ninth place last year because the road was closed for much of the year after a vehicle hit the bridge, which had a clearance of just over two metres (7ft) at the time, in October 2019 – the thirteenth time it had been hit that year – causing significant damage and closing the road underneath.
Now the bridge has reopened after Network Rail engineers carried out a repair that involved the design and installation of a new protection beam, designed to withstand future bridge strikes, making the bridge stronger than before. This extra protection aims to minimise disruption to rail and road traffic in the event of another strike.
The repair work was completed at the beginning of February 2021 and Cambridgeshire County Council has updated the signage with its new height of 2.0 metres, 10cm lower than before, owing to the new protection beam.
Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “The disruption this incident caused shows why it’s so important for motorists to know the height of the vehicle they are driving.
“We have carried out extensive works to make the bridge stronger, but this doesn’t mean that drivers can be complacent. Motorists should do their bit too and wise up, size up.”
On average, there are five bridge strikes per day around the country, with most of the vehicles that hit railway bridges being heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and buses. At a cost of around £13,000 per strike, this costs the UK taxpayer around £23 million a year.