Operators have been warned that a bridge strike involving one of their vehicles could place their O-Licence at risk because of data sharing between Network Rail and Traffic Commissioners (TCs).

Speaking at a Confederation of Passenger Transport Operators’ Evening, Senior TC Richard Turfitt revealed that his office already receives “far too many” reports of bridge strikes involving PSVs and LGVs.

Any bridge strike will be followed up, says Senior TC Turfitt

“Network Rail has advanced systems that quickly identify the vehicle involved. These incidents cost hundreds of millions of pounds annually and they are easily avoided. If I receive reports of a bridge strike, I will follow it up,” says Mr Turfitt.

The rail infrastructure owner and manager pursues a policy of education, engineering, enablement and enforcement to help prevent bridge strikes. It attempts to recover 100% of associated costs from insurance companies, although the actual figure is around 50%.

Besides the sharing of information with TCs, Network Rail works with DVSA and the police to prosecute offending drivers. It says there are on average five bridge strikes per day.

To help avoid their vehicles being involved, Mr Turfitt adds that operators should have policies in place preventing drivers from following personal sat-navs that are not specifically designed for use with large vehicles.

“This is a serious issue. Drivers should not be permitted to use their own sat-navs that are not updated regularly. A policy should be in place [around navigation aids].” Doing so forms part of a Transport Manager discharging their responsibilities for continuous and effective control, he adds.

Heavy costs are incurred when bridge strikes occur

The engineering aspect of Network Rail’s campaign to reduce the number of bridge strikes includes the provision of enhanced traffic signs, increasing the robustness of structures and removing driver distractions.

Costs incurred by damage to bridges include compensation payments to train operating companies, repairs and staff call-outs.