Bridge strikes are an increasing problem for the rail industry and one which is not only costly, but also incredibly dangerous.
Bridge strikes – which are caused when a vehicle crashes into a bridge – can lead to serious injury and in extreme cases, death.
Last year, Network Rail announced that it received 1,708 reports of bridge strikes throughout the UK, an increase of 9.9% on the previous year’s report of 1544. Although this figure isn’t quite as high as the years 2004/05 & 2006/07 when reports hit 2,020, the figure does demonstrates that reports of bridge strikes are steadily on the rise.
To date there has only been one strike-related derailment in the UK, which took place in Oyne Aberdeenshire in 1978 and injured seven people; however there have been a number of notable incidents over the years. When taking into account delays, disruption, repairs and injury, the true cost of bridge strikes is incalculable.
With bridge strikes being an ever-present problem, Network Rail has developed a joint response protocol with the police, to establish the best course of action in the event of a strike. This framework details each department’s role, so that consistency can be maintained and situations can be resolved as soon as possible.
Once a bridge has been struck by a vehicle, the structure must be completely checked to ensure that it is safe for trains to pass through; however, more often than not this will result in delays, diversions or cancellations. Of course not all bridge strikes result in injury, but the re-routing of services can result in considerable delays for the rail network – something which has a knock-on effect to the wider community.
In an effort to reduce bridge strikes – and keep the country moving forward – Network Rail continues to work with relevant industry experts such as the Department for Transport, the Association of Directors of Environment Economy and Planning and Transport, in order to raise awareness of the problem. This includes providing information to road maintenance and road transport managers, through the use of the four Es: education, engineering, enablement and enforcement.
Network Rail is also mindful that not all drivers in the UK live in the UK, so it has produced a foreign language guide, endorsed by the European Transport Safety Council, in order to provide foreign visitors with as much information as possible. Guides are available in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Bulgarian, Russian and English.
As well as raising awareness and the supply of guides, Network Rail has produced a training course – in conjunction with the construction plant hire sector and the freight industry – to provide drivers with the certificate of professional competence (CPC).
Bridge strikes will never be completely eradicated, but with the proper signage, regular safety inspections and road maintenance, the number of reported strikes each year can be reduced and in many cases, prevented. A quick response and the relevant knowledge is key to ensuring safety on the roads and rail network.
For further information about bridge strikes, including guides on strike prevention and the best ways to report a strike, please visit: www.networkrail.co.uk.
Northern Pontoon Limited
Northern Pontoon Limited are based in the south of Cumbria and provide pontoon hire, sales and installation services throughout the United Kingdom. The firm has been in operation for five years and helps clients plan their modular pontoon design and complete the installation of their floating pontoon system, ensuring the correct Health and Safety considerations are in place.
Northern Pontoon Limited strives for excellence in all projects they are involved with, with an enviable reputation for premium quality, service and a flexible attitude towards client’s requirements.
Since their inception the firm has worked with a number of high profile, reputable clients including Kier Group, QTS Group, Balfour Beatty, Murphy Group and Jacobs to name a few.
Northern Pontoon provides access to the underside of bridges which would normally be limited without the firm’s solutions. Providing access from underneath the bridge reduces closure costs and minimises disturbances to transport, as the line doesn’t have to close.
Speaking to Premier Construction, a spokesperson for the company commented:
“At Northern Pontoon Limited we strive for excellence in all projects we are involved with, with an enviable reputation for premium quality, service and a flexible attitude towards our clients requirements.”
The firm offer services to the commercial, events, TV and film industries.
The company hires and builds a variety of versatile floating platforms for works access on water. The firm can provide a Modular Pontoon system for any project large or small, from floating walkways to floating work platforms. The systems are flexible allowing for structures to be constructed around obstacles. Modular Pontoons are lightweight and if necessary can be broken down into single sections and rebuilt on the water.
The company’s highly experienced engineers can design a pontoon to suit client’s requirements and will work with them from start to completion of projects to ensure schemes are completed to the best standard possible.
The firm provides a number of events throughout the UK floating stages, floating marquees, floating bars and much more. The firm’s fleet of vehicles can transport a client’s pontoon to any location throughout the UK and if vehicle access is limited, the pontoon can be split into sections, carried by hand and re-built on the water, causing no damage to gardens or sensitive land.
A spokesperson added:
“Whatever a client’s project requirements are, Northern Pontoon Hire can cater for their needs. We will work alongside clients from start to completion of their project to ensure that everything runs efficiently.”
Shaun Armstrong from MayGurney Rail commented:
“I have hired Northern Pontoon Limited as a choice preferred subcontractor on very complex projects requiring limited access. I have always found Northern Pontoon Limited to be very helpful in planning and assisting with innovative ideas, delivering, solutions with a can do and will do approach.
“The firm is very proactive and has high consideration for healthy, safety and the environment with full company management systems requirements. I would have no hesitation in recommending Northern Pontoon Limited to assist you and would hesitate in hiring them on any similar projects.”