Network Rail have launched a new safety campaign to deter HGV drivers from taking un-necessary risks by attempted to drive under low-level bridges.
The safety campaign comes as pressure has been mounting for action to be taken specifically on the A5 railway bridge in Hinckley which has been hit by HGVs 67 times in the last 8 years, 16 of which in the last 12 months alone.
While discussions are still ongoing towards a long-term solution it is hoped that a national campaign will have an impact on raiding awareness.
Every time a bridge is hit the safety of rail passengers is put at risk, an assessment has to be done and any repairs, this causes long delays which has an impact on traffic and the taxpayer misses out as passengers have to be compensated for delays and cancellations.
This low-bridge has been hit 16 times this year alone.
Joe Cookson, public affairs manager from Network Rail, said: “These implications are something which we both acknowledge and do a significant amount of work in order to tackle.
“As a result we are currently planning a national campaign, launching in mid-October, which is hoped will raise awareness of the issue and lead to better recording of vehicle heights and route planning.
“The campaign will be centred on the four E’s - education, engineering, enablement and enforcement.
“It will focus on raising awareness amongst drivers, transport operators and other stakeholders, and on improving traffic signs, warning systems and road markings as well as removing driver distractions.”
Network rail are actively working with Highways England to deliver an effective solution to the problem. Some suggestions have included overhead gantries with warning strips and electronic flashing warning signs, both of which would require Highways England approval.
The frequency of bridges being hit has caused disruptions to commuters, motorists, residents and local businesses as well as the rail network itself.
Highways England are conscious of the issues with low bridges, particularly the low bridge at Hinckley, and even though all require warning signs are on display approaching the bridge it is still the HGV drivers that need to adhere to the warnings.
Highways England Safety improvements team leader, Emma Timson, said: “Safety is our top imperative and we already have signs in place to warn drivers of the height restrictions at the location of the railway bridge in Hinckley.
“However, we are aware of the difficulties people have been having and we are looking at ways in which we can improve the information we are giving to drivers at this location.”
There doesn’t seem to be much time that passes before there is another report of a HGV hitting a low bridge so more definitely needs to be done to warn drivers. Many owner HGV drivers have specialised navigation systems which calculate routes to avoid hazardous for HGV’s such as low bridges, other drivers will plan their routes in advance using road maps and local knowledge.
You can find a safety guide for HGV drivers that has been translated in to several languages which you can find here.