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Flooding heads transport concerns


MORE MONEY needs to be released by the government to help local authorities deal with increasing problems of flooding, Hampshire County Council assistant surveyor Alan Mills told a meeting at Great George Street last week.

And a strategic authority is needed to focus and control flood mitigation efforts, Mills said, chairing the joint Transport Board & Railway Civil Engineers Association meeting on overcoming emergencies.

Eifion Evans, a geotechnical expert with Railtrack, detailed the problems that last year's heavy rainfall caused across the rail network, leading to numerous landslips which peaked with an unprecedented 15 slips in a four week period towards the end of the year.

Hampshire CC highway engineer Tim Lawton explained how a specialist unit worked alongside the emergency services to ensure the county's roads reopened quickly after an accident.

As well as clearing heavy goods vehicles and their hazardous cargos from the region's roads, his department had to deal with 5,000 live chickens and a hippopotamus.

Moving to other transport issues, Railtrack senior asset manager Brian Bell described how the instances of bridge strikes had risen steadily over recent years, and the steps the infrastructure owner was taking to reduce damage to its bridges.

Since 1994-95 the number of bridge strikes has risen from 1,200 to over 1,600 last year, with one bridge in Swindon being hit 119 times in the past seven years.

But Bell put some of the increases down to more accurate reporting.

He described how steel beams were being erected to protect bridges known to be vulnerable to strikes from tall vehicles, and said new infrared detectors were being installed to warn vehicles approaching bridges if they were too tall to pass underneath.

Bell concluded with statistics on vehicles found on railway lines. He said that in some areas incursions were deliberate as vandals dumped cars on the line.

However, the 17 aircraft that have landed on the lines in the past five years got there purely by accident.

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