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Rail bridge struck 14 times in four years

Worcester rail bridge

A steam railway group is calling for bigger fines after one of its bridges was struck for the fourteenth time in just four years.

Engineers at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway have said enough is enough, following the latest incident on 1 May, which led to road closures after a transporter hit the Worcester bridge.

The B4632 Station Road/ Evesham Road bridge has now been struck an average of once every three months since it underwent a £250,000 repair job in 2014.

GWSR bridge engineer John Balderstone said: “These bridge strikes pose a serious threat not only to the railway, but to other road users.

“In this case there was limited damage to the bridge, but it will need repair. However the equipment on the lorry appears to have been destroyed as was swept off the truck. I hate to think of the consequences had a car or bus been following that vehicle.

“It is so utterly frustrating, time-consuming and infuriating that there can be so many lorries being driven around with high loads and yet the drivers don’t bother to take note of the height.”

The collisions have so far cost the railway a total of £72,000 to repair. The railway is now drawing up plans to install steel impact beams either side of the bridge. This is expected to cost around £90,000.

“That’s money we could and should spend on developing facilities for our growing number or visitors or completing Broadway station sooner, rather than later,” Balderstone added.

“It won’t stop irresponsible and careless truck drivers from destroying their vehicles or loads but it will at least protect the bridge.

“Police often don’t pursue a prosecution so, if they don’t, we will. At a minimum surely a careless or dangerous driving offence should be imposed given the potential for disaster.

“This is becoming an increasingly serious problem not just for us but for the national railway network and other heritage railways. I would welcome more severe penalties not just for drivers but for the operating companies as well.

“The seriousness of this issue must be driven home before someone gets killed.”

The Office of Rail and Road said that in 2015/16, 1,753 bridges suffered collisions, costing Network Rail around £12.7M in compensation.

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