Home Infrastructure Unusual bridge strike closes one track of West Coast main line

Unusual bridge strike closes one track of West Coast main line

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.

Close up of the damage to Worston Lane bridge. (Network Rail)

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.

Rail Engineer is the leading independent quality monthly magazine for engineers, project managers, directors and leading rail executive decision makers. Head to www.railsubs.com to make a free subscription to RailEngineer magazine or one of its sister publications.


  1. Can anybody tell us why this wall had been previously rebuilt. If it was from an earlier road vehicle strike then the occurrence is not as unusual as the headline suggests. Also it may indicate the need for some sort of roadside barrier to prevent future vehicle strikes.
    As the ‘new’ brickwork appears to be intact is this an indication that too strong a mortar was used thus ensuring that more of the older brickwork was damaged this time round.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Must Read

Technical Seminars at Railtex – Keynote Speeches Revised

The Technical Seminar programme, arranged and hosted by Rail Engineer, gives Railtex exhibitors the opportunity to talk about their latest developments to an enquiring and...

Evolution not revolution

Metal wheels on metal rails have, for almost 200 years, provided energy-efficient transport due to their low rolling resistance and effective load bearing.

UNIFE releases vision paper on Digital Trends in the Rail Sector

UNIFE, the Association of the European Rail Industry, has released a new vision paper on digitalisation that aims to bring the European rail supply...

First TransPennine Express Nova 3 train handed over

The first of TransPennine Express’s (TPE) new fleet of Nova 3 trains, which will initially come into service in the coming months between Liverpool...

New London Overground Class 710/2 train obtains conditional approval to run

Bombardier’s new Class 710/2 ‘Aventra’ train, destined for London Overground’s Gospel Oak to Barking and Watford lines, has received its first limited...