The most bashed bridge in Suffolk leads to nearly 100 hours of rail delays
Almost 100 hours of rail delays have been caused at a Suffolk railway bridge that has been hit by vehicles 43 times over the last five years.
The bridge, in Coddenham Road, Needham Market, has cost Network Rail £426,000 in repairs – and lost 94 hours in delays to passengers while engineers inspect and repair the bridge after it has been hit.
The rail infrastructure company has issued details of the bridges that have been most often hit by vehicles and there are three in Suffolk in the region’s top 10.
The two others are at Ship Lane in Bramford, near Ipswich, and at Bacton, near Stowmarket.
In Essex the most hit bridges are at Hatfield Peveral and at Romford.
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The most bashed bridge in Britain is just outside Ely station in Stuntney Road. It has been hit 113 times since 2009, equivalent to more than once a month.
Drivers of lorries in East Anglia who are chancing it under railway bridges, rather than checking if their vehicle will fit, cost the taxpayer and businesses £1million in the last year and delayed passengers by 170 hours.
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On average each incident causes more than two hours of delays to train services. Bridge strikes at the three most hit bridges in Suffolk have cost passengers 143 hours in delays in the last five years.
Network Rail has decided to tackle the problem head on by:
• Engaging the haulage and public transport industries
• Fitting steel beams on rail bridges where there are a large number of strikes to reduce the impact, resulting in less damage to infrastructure
• Working with local authorities to ensure road signs displaying bridge heights are correct and up to date
• Calling for stricter enforcement of penalties for drivers when strikes do happen
Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said: “We know that most drivers are complete professionals and take safety on the road very seriously.
“However we know there are also some areas where we could be better across the industry to stop strikes happening and give drivers and logistics companies the tools they need to help tackle the problem more effectively.”
A new campaign to highlight the problem is being launched to businesses in the haulage industry until next spring.