A notorious low railway bridge in south London has seen the number of lorries hitting it fall by a third after hi-tech warning signs were installed.
Thurlow Park Bridge, which spans the A205 in Tulse Hill, is the second-most struck railway bridge in Britain – with an average of two incidents per month.
Network Rail is forced to close the rail line each time, causing delays for thousands of Thameslink and Southern Rail passengers as well as motorists.
A spokesman for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) described the bridge as “the bane of our lives”.
However, a new system which detects vehicles that are too high and sets off electronic warning signs has slashed the number of incidents in the past six months to seven. In the past four months there has been just one lorry crash.
Mark Huband, Network Rail route asset manager, said: “Every time a lorry hits this bridge it causes disruption to thousands of passengers on one of London’s busiest rail routes – so it’s great to see the investment which has been made here is already making a difference. With a railway network as busy and complex as ours, knock-on delays can spread very quickly.
“By working with Transport for London, we’ve been able to reduce delays to Southern and Thameslink passengers and motorists too.”
Alex Foulds, Business Improvement Director at GTR, said track speeds have to be reduced or trains stopped every time the bridge is hit.
“With all Thameslink trains passing this way during the London Bridge work, as well as many of Southern’s services, it was imperative to do something about it,” he added.
The new signs, which use energy-efficient lighting, are linked to TfL’s London Streets and Traffic Control Centre. Extra warning signs and steel beams to protect the bridge were also installed last year.
Dana Skelley, Director of Asset Management at TfL, said: “Ensuring our roads are safe and reliable is a top priority. These hi-tech warning signs have been ensuring road users know the height restrictions of the bridge - helping reduce disruption caused by the actions of some HGV drivers who seem to not notice traditional signs.
“I’m pleased that we’ve been able to work so closely with Network Rail to achieve this novel solution to what had become a recurring issue.”