UK's most crashed-into bridge was hit more than twice a month last year

Victoria Bell
·3-min read
The Watling Street bridge on the A5 in Hinckley, Leicestershire was struck 25 times in the last year. (Google Maps)
The Watling Street bridge on the A5 in Hinckley, Leicestershire has been struck 25 times in the last year. (Google Maps)

The UK’s most crashed-into bridge was struck 25 times last year, according to data by Network Rail.

Watling Street bridge on the A5 in Hinckley, Leicestershire, has the title of “most-bashed” bridge in Britain.

Second on the list was Bromford Road bridge in Dudley, West Midlands, with 24 strikes, which also saw the most rail passenger delays, with a staggering 4,300 minutes of disruption.

St John's Street in Lichfield, Staffordshire was third with 23 strikes.

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Figures show railway bridges are struck five times every day on average across Britain, causing almost half a million minutes of delays for rail passengers.

The bridge at Stonea Road in Stonea, Cambridgeshire, suffered 13 strikes in the last year, meaning it has slipped down from second place in 2018 to ninth.

This is likely owing to the fact that the bridge has been closed since October 2019, when a vehicle hit it causing significant damage.

An articulated lorry which hit a bridge in Coombe Valley Road, Dover, this morning. The lorry was left on its side after the collision.
An articulated lorry which hit a bridge in Coombe Valley Road, Dover. (PA)

Network Rail released the data as part of its “Lorries Can’t Limbo” campaign, which hopes to prompt drivers to be aware of low bridges and know the height of their vehicle before getting on the road.

It has been timed for the run-up to Christmas, with more large vehicles expected on the roads.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “There is no excuse to not know the height of your vehicle before starting your journey.

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“As well as putting lives in danger on both road and rail and causing lengthy delays for passengers and road users, drivers who chance it at bridges are at risk of leaving their employers with a hefty bill for repairs and train delay costs, along with a strong threat to their own operator licence.”

A letter was issued last month to all goods vehicles and Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operator licence holders, warning that regulatory action could result in the loss of their operator’s licence.

Trains on the tracks and power station in London. Blurred trains leaving and arriving next a busy station. City background with buildings and construction in progress. Travel and transport concepts
Network Rail – which has around 10,000 bridges over roads – reported an 11% year-on-year decrease in incidents, but warned the issue remains “a dangerous and costly concern”. (Getty)

Hideo Takano, senior structures advisor at Highways England, said: “Around two-thirds of bridge strikes on our roads are caused by vehicles carrying a load.

“So, to reduce the risk of this happening we urge all drivers to follow these simple steps: know your height, plan your route, and secure your load.”

Network Rail said that bridge strikes can involve drivers from other countries who may be unfamiliar with UK roads or are driving left-hand-drive vehicles.

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There are foreign language guides that have been endorsed by organisations including the European Transport Safety Council, European Traffic Police Network (TISPOL) and International Road Haulage Union (IRU).

Network Rail – which has around 10,000 bridges over roads – reported an 11% year-on-year decrease in incidents, but warned the issue remains “a dangerous and costly concern”.

Chairman Sir Peter Hendy said: “We’ve done a lot of work with partners across the industry in recent years to tackle bridge strikes, and whilst it’s encouraging to see our work is paying off with numbers now on the decline, there’s a lot more to be done to cut the unnecessary delays, costs and safety risks they pose.”

Watch: Man narrowly escapes being hit by a train in London