The Spa Valley Railway is no longer able to operate trains to Eridge from Tunbridge Wells due to a serious bridge strike by an over-height Heavy Goods Vehicle yesterday.
The railway will remain shut at Broom Lane and will be unable to serve Groombridge and Eridge until repairs have been completed.
Services will run from Tunbridge Wells West to High Rocks only which will result in much needed revenue being lost while these expensive and time-consuming repairs are carried out.
As a major tourist attraction in the town this will also have an impact on visitors coming to the town to experience the heritage railway which is located close to the town’s famous Pantiles.
Chairman Chris MacRae said: “Unfortunately this is not the first time that our bridges including the A26 Eridge Road Bridge have been struck and damaged by over-height HGVs that have ignored road signage of the height restrictions and have hit our bridges, closing the railway while inspections and repairs are carried out.
“Legislation exists that requires the height of vehicles to be marked in the cab, for drivers to know and measure the height of their vehicles, and for roads authorities to mark the height of bridges that vehicles can safety pass under. Yet time and again we are the innocent victim of these criminal bridge strikes by over-height vehicles and seem powerless to protect ourselves.
“As an entirely volunteer run railway that carries 40,000 visitors per year every time the railway cannot operate the railway experiences considerable financial strain.”
Jonnie Wesson, General Manager of the Railway said: “This incident means we are unable to operate any trains over the bridge until repairs have been undertaken. This is an absolutely devastating blow for the Spa Valley Railway and our volunteers.
“This weekend services will operate between Tunbridge West and the damaged bridge, calling at High Rocks in one direction but will be unable to continue to Groombridge or Eridge until the bridge is repaired.”
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