Action Needed To Prevent Further Bridge Strikes

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) is calling for action after one of the railway bridges on its route was struck for the 14th time in four years on 1st May.

Oversize trucks and lorries are the culprits, with the organisation’s bridge engineer John Balderstone describing the incidents as “frustrating and infuriating”.

The bridge in question spans the B4632 Station Road/Evesham Road in Broadway and is part of the line that runs from Broadway to Cheltenham on the Cotswold heritage line.

Since opening on 30th March this year, the volunteer-run steam railway service has seen passenger numbers nearly double, but damage to the bridge means the line has to be closed for repairs to be carried out.

In 2014, the GWSR spent around £250,000 on repairing the 115-year-old bridge, as part of a wider project to overhaul five railway bridges between Laverton and Broadway. However, since those repairs were carried out a further £72,000 has been spent fixing the bridge because of trucks carrying oversize loads hitting the 4.4m-high structure.

Although this money has come from the truck drivers’ insurance, Mr Balderstone said that the disruption it causes to the railway and motorists is unacceptable.

“Every time there is a collision it necessitates a close inspection of the bridge, delaying train services, to ensure that it is safe for trains to cross,” he explained.

The GWSR wants the drivers responsible for such collisions to be prosecuted and for stronger penalties to be imposed on those who do not know the height of their loads and subsequently have a collision.

According to Network Rail figures, there were 1,774 bridge strikes recorded in 2016/17, with one bridge in Anglia being struck 18 times in just 12 months.

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