Network Rail today called for lorry drivers across Greater Manchester to know the height of their vehicles to avoid crashing into railway bridges and causing hours of delays to train passengers.
New figures from Network Rail reveal October and November see around 10 incidents reported every day across Britain with almost 2,000 bridge strikes every year costing the taxpayer some £23m in damages and delays.
The most bashed bridge in the Greater Manchester area is currently Ashton Road bridge, Bredbury, which has been hit 46 times since 2009.
This is closely followed by Walkden Road Bridge, Walkden, which has been hit 41 times since 2009.
‘What the truck’ and ‘Lorries can’t limbo’ are just two of the eye catching straplines for Network Rail’s new ‘bridge bash’ campaign aimed at HGV drivers and haulage companies.
Research has found that 43% of lorry drivers admit to not knowing the size of their vehicle,while 52% of drivers admit to not taking low bridges into account when planning their journeys.
Five bridge strikes happen across the country everyday and on average, each bridge strike costs £13,500 and causes two hours of delays to train services.
Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail and a driver of a double decker bus himself, explains: “Size does matter when you’re a professional driver in a heavy vehicle. Not knowing the size of your vehicle or load could lead to a serious accident, and the loss of your licence.
“Every incident creates potential delay for tens of thousands of passengers and potential costs for taxpayers, and this is happening multiple times a day.
“It’s only a matter of time before road or rail users are killed as a result of this carelessness; we need professional HGV drivers and their operator employers to get behind and support this campaign to eradicate bridge bashing, which reaches epidemic levels at this time of year.
“Network Rail is urging drivers across the Greater Manchester region to fully understand the size of their vehicles and plan their route to avoid low bridges – too many drivers are chancing it under railway bridges with disastrous results.
The end of this month (October) sees a peak in the number of strikes, rising to almost 10 per day. Research suggests this could be due to the hour change and increased deliveries ahead of Christmas.
Figures show most bridge strikes happen between 10am and 11am, but remain high all day until around 6pm in the evening and can cause hours of travel chaos.