Revealed: how lorries hitting rail bridges costs taxpayer £23m

Bridge in Tulse Hill is the worst offender in London, having been hit 92 times since 2009.

Hundreds of thousands of rail passengers will suffer hours of delays and cancellations this month as "bridge strikes" reach their peak - writes

Defined as when a lorry hits a low bridge, aboutten suchincidents - which cost an average of £13,000 in damage and delays -are expected every day.

According to new data released by Network Rail, railways suffer almost 2,000 bridge strikes every year costing the taxpayer some £23m.

The most smashed-into bridge in London is one on Thurlow Park Road in Tulse Hill, which was been struck a shocking 92 times since 2009, giving it the dubious title of third most-hit bridge in Britain.

Network Rail and TfLcalled on drivers to take stock of the size of their vehicles and plan their routes to avoid low bridges.

Innovative approaches such as hi-tech electronic warning signs around hotspots have been installed at some, including at the Thurlow Park Bridge where strikes fell by more than a third after smart warning signs were introduced.

This cut delays to trains and traffic on the South Circular, according to the transport agencies.

Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail and a driver of a double decker bus himself, said: "Not knowing the size of your vehicle or load could lead to a serious accident, and the loss of your licence.

"Every incident creates potential delay for tens of thousands of passengers and potential costs for taxpayers, and this is happening multiple times a day.

“It's only a matter of time before road or rail users are killed as a result of this carelessness; we need professional HGV drivers and their operator employers to get behind and support this campaign to eradicate bridge bashing, which reaches epidemic levels at this time of year."

Glynn Barton, Director of Network Management at TfL, said: “Disruption to the transport system caused by a small number of drivers not knowing the heights of their vehicles is completely avoidable.

Easi doesn't do it: A lorry causes significant damage to a bridge

"The simple act of checking the height of your vehicle and being vigilant for bridge height road signs will make a huge difference to keeping our roads and railways reliable for everyone.”

Research suggests the higher number of bridge strikes in late October and November could be down to clocks going back and increased deliveries ahead of Christmas.

Figures show most bridge strikes happen between 10am and 11am, but they remain high all day until around 6pm in the evening and can cause hours of travel chaos.

Research found:

According to Network Rail

• 43 per cent of lorry drivers admit to not knowing the size of their vehicle

• 52 per cent of drivers admit to not taking low bridges into account when planning their journeys

• Five bridge strikes happen across the country everyday - with a peak of 10 per day in October

• On average, each bridge strike costs £13,500 and causes two hours of delays to train services

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