Network Rail urges lorry drivers to ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ as Suffolk bridge tops list of Britain’s most bashed bridges

More than 1,600 bridges were hit over the year, with the most bashed – Coddenham Road bridge in Suffolk – struck 19 times and one of three most hit in the top ten in the Anglia region.

Stuntney Road bridge Anglia bridge strike
  • Despite fewer trains and passengers on the rail network due to the Covid-19 pandemic, bridge strikes still cost Network Rail more than £5.5 million in delay and cancellation fees in 2020/21
  • In anticipation of a spike in incidents over Black Friday and the Christmas period, and an influx of newly qualified lorry drivers on Britain’s roads, ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ campaign is being rolled out reminding lorry drivers to check the height of their vehicles and plan their route in advance to avoid low bridges

Network Rail has revealed the most-struck railway bridges in the country as it relaunches its ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ campaign, reminding lorry drivers and haulage operators to take better care by knowing the height of their vehicles and choosing suitable routes before they head out on journeys.

The warning comes ahead of the annual Black Friday and Christmas shopping rush – traditionally a peak period for bridge strikes – and as more newly qualified lorry drivers are expected on Britain’s roads this year to meet supply chain demands and fill the estimated 100,000 driver shortfall.* 

The Coddenham Road bridge on the B1078 has the unflattering title of the most bashed bridge in Britain. Located in Needham Market, Suffolk, the bridge was struck 19 times last year, amounting to £41,331 in unnecessary train delay and cancellation costs. The other “big hitters” on the list in the Anglia region include Stuntney Road in Ely (4), Ipswich Road bridge in Mannningtree (8) and Abbey Farm in Thetford (20).

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “Bridge strikes cause unnecessary delays, costs and safety issues for road and rail users. To compound matters, they drain public funds which should be used on upgrading and improving our network. In recent years we’ve done a lot of work with partners across the industry to tackle this problem and whilst it’s encouraging to see numbers on the decline, there’s a lot more work to be done.

“With Black Friday and Christmas fast approaching, we urge professional operators and drivers to properly plan their routes, know the height of their vehicles and look out for road signs warning of oncoming bridges. Those who don’t are at risk of losing their driver’s and operator’s licences, and Network Rail looks to recover the entire repair and delay costs from the driver’s employer.”  

Over the next four weeks, reminders to ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ will feature on posters at motorway service stations across Britain, urging drivers to check the size of their vehicles and their routes before setting off.

Network Rail’s 4E’s initiative – education, engineering, enablement and enforcement – aims to ensure haulage companies and their drivers are provided with the knowledge and tools they need to avoid striking bridges. As part of this ongoing initiative, Network Rail has a team of bridge strike ‘champions’ covering each route across Britain, who raise awareness of the issue by visiting haulage companies and lead in managing bridge strike risk locally.  

Most struck railway bridges in Britain 2020/21:

  1. Coddenham Road Needham Market, Suffolk19 strikes
  2. St John’s Street Lichfield, Staffordshire 18 strikes
  3. Harlaxton Road Grantham, Lincolnshire16 strikes
  4. Stuntney Road Ely, Cambridgeshire 15 strikes
  5. Bromford Road Dudley, West Midlands 13 strikes
  6. Watling Street Hinckley, Leicestershire 11 strikes
  7. Warminster Road Wilton, Wiltshire 11 strikes
  8. Ipswich Road Manningtree, Essex 10 strikes
  9. Thames Street Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey, 10 strikes
  10. Lower Downs Road Wimbledon, London, 10 strikes

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