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Safety checks

NEWS: Local authorities this week gave NCE details of progress being made to strengthen overbridges.

Cambridgeshire has 30 crossings over rail, 11 of those over the East Coast Main Line.

The county council is carrying out a desktop study on its bridges. Plans, photographs and reports indicating a risk from high speed traffic, curves and blind approaches are followed by a site visit.

Perth & Kinross has seven overbridges on the Perth-Dundee and Perth to Inverness lines.

All are being investigated with desk studies and site visits for alignment, existing containment and previous accident statistics. The study is nearly complete. No advice has been received from the Scottish Executive. 'We haven't really had much communication from outside about this, ' said principal engineer Iain MacKinnon.

North Yorkshire has 131 overbridges. It began a survey immediately after the Selby crash which it has just completed with results going to county councillors.

It has set up a meeting with Railtrack to see how to progress the issue. It is looking for further information from national working parties on related questions, said John Smith, client manager of bridges.

Warwickshire has 105 overbridges, including the West Coast Main Line and the Chiltern Line from Marylebone to Birmingham. It has carried out a review of accidents and records but is waiting on central government advice. It claimed responsibility for many of the bridges lies with Railtrack, 'although this is a difficult situation to work out', said principal bridge engineer Pete Batt.

Leicester City has 13 overbridges including the Troon Way bridge, a raised hump back bridge between high embankment approaches carrying busy commuter traffic over the Midland Main Line to Sheffield, and identified by NCE reader CL Chapman as needing better barriers. The city is investigating all crossings for carrying capacity and safety with desk studies and if necessary with site follow ups.

Oxfordshire has carried out a desktop study of records from past bridge inspections, which include notes on barriers identifying possible risks. The study included a small crossing over the south Morton to Didcot line, identified to NCE by reader Dave Morris. 'There is a problem there, ' said the county council's bridge engineer Peter Brown, 'but the road is quite wide and traffic calm on a slow 30mph exit from a town.'

The county has written to Railtrack about the bridge but is awaiting central government guidance before taking any action on its crossings. 'In many of these locations it is physically difficult to install standard barriers, ' added Brown.

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