Bridges strikes-the hidden delay that costs Network Rail millions.


Every other day across London a heavy goods vehicle commonly known as an HGV hits a bridge in the capital causing hours of cancellations for us commuters and ultimately resulting in thousands of pounds worth of delays.

This may not indeed seem a big deal to some but the scale of the knock on effects are vast. Our bridges can have anything from two to eight train tracks running across them and as soon as that bridge is struck, the process to check it is safe again to use, are extensive.

Bridge strikes really are a problem that can result in millions of pounds worth of delays throughout the year.

Sergeant Alex Burlison from the Met Police Roads and Transport Commercial Vehicle Unit, spoke to the London News section of the Havering Daily about the endless problems a bridge strike can cause.

“These are large vehicles that go crashing into bridges and the results for Network Rail can be high costs.

“A bridge strike is an incident where we will always deploy officers. A full investigation is launched after the collision has taken place and the driver is interviewed.”

Our Met Police Traffic Officers deployed across London are quite remarkable police officers who not only know our roads and laws extremely well but are also very knowledgeable on vehicles and the impact they can have.

“Normally a bridge strike will result in the driver being charged for driving without due care and attention , they can also be prosecuted for contravening the height limit and at times for the three metre height marker. Fortunately the high costs of these delays can be claimed back through the insurance company.

“The driver is then also reported to the Traffic Commissioner who does have the power to remove a driver’s vocational licence through a separate process.”

Bridge strikes happen every other day across the capital with the most struck bridge being Thurlow Park in Tulse Hill followed by the bridge on Lower Downs Road in Wimbledon.

“We put together a very comprehensive package that can be very damning to get a realistic prospect of a prosecution. The first route being the Criminal Court where the driver can face points on his licence and a fine of anything from £500 to £1,000. Then we go to the Traffic Commissioner that can remove a driver’s vocational licence.”

The biggest issue here is the fact that drivers fail to read road signs clearly or choose to ignore the bridge markings with clear height restriction limits on them.

Sergeant Burlison goes on to share with us an incident where an arctic vehicle carrying a large steel structure, driving in a rush hit the Grovenor Road bridge that goes from Wandsworth to Victoria station.

“The driver was in a rush, he came over Vauxhall Bridge and rammed his truck straight through the bridge. He was carrying six tonnes of solid steel that went through two decks of the bridge. The bridge has eight tracks running across it and this incident caused fourteen cancellations, 1,200 minutes of delays resulting in £153,000 worth of delayed services.

“The driver was issued five points on his licence and given a £530 fine. The Traffic Commissioner then suspended him from vocational driving for 28 days.”

All because the driver failed to read the road signs.

Sergeant Alex has seen many an incident where HGV’s have literally got themselves wedged under a bridge because the driver has once again failed to read the height markings.

The financial impact these collisions have are huge and the delays commuters face because of drivers choosing to not read road signs are ongoing.

Fortunately, officers like Sergeant Burlison and his team are very well trained and highly skilled in their job and able to literally pick up the pieces after the incident.

The result of a bridge strike.
The impact on the bridge.
An HGV wedged under a bridge.

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