An unusual bridge strike closed one track on the West Coast main line and caused a speed restriction to be imposed across the whole route.
Normally, a bridge strike is caused when a vehicle attempts to go under a bridge that is too low for it. We’ve all seen the photos – crushed lorries, buses with the top deck knocked off, containers on their sides.
The impact can move the bridge, meaning the line above has to be closed while repairs take place.
But the bridge strike at Worston Lane, north of Stafford, was different. Here, the road runs above the railway, so there is no low bridge deck to hit. There’s all the room in the world.
Except, at 10:00 on Thursday 14 February, an errant motorist hit the bridge structure – the brickwork above the abutment – knocking it out of place so it was in danger of coming down onto the track below. The vehicle then drove off, although how the driver could have been unaware of the damage both to the vehicle and the bridge is a mystery.
The track immediately under the damage was closed, and a temporary speed restriction imposed across the other tracks of the West Coast main line.
Network Rail engineers plan to carry out repairs overnight, and the road will remain closed while the work takes place.
There are around 2,000 bridge strikes a year on the railway network, the vast majority of them caused by high vehicles striking a bridge they are passing underneath. Each costs an average of £10,000 to repair and Network Rail pays £13 million in compensation to train operators for services they can’t run.