Volunteers at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) say the 115-year old railway bridge has been struck repeatedly by lorry drivers who are mis-judging the height of their vehicles.
Spokespersons from the GWSR say at least 14 trucks have struck the bridge since 2014, and despite "low bridge" signs and warnings, lorry drivers seem oblivious to the dangers.
GWSR's John Balderstone says : "It is so utterly frustrating, time-consuming and infuriating that there can be so many lorries being driven around with high loads and yet the drivers don’t bother to take note of the height."
Much of the repair work has been paid for by the lorry driver's insurance, costing around £72,000. The damage, however, has also led to the railway having to carry out extra work on the bridge, with a proposed plan to spend £90,000 in bridge protections. The group plans to spend this money on steel impact beams on either side of the Worcestershire bridge.
The damage to the bridge has been a big distraction for the railway, who could have been spending the money on developing facilities or completing their Broadway station project sooner. Volunteers raised more than £1.3m to extend the line to Broadway in 2017, completing the project earlier this year.
Network Rail ran a campaign last year warning drivers that there are around 2,000 bridge strikes by over-sized lorries in Britain each year.
The GWSR is calling for stronger penalties to be imposed on offending truck drivers. John Balderstone points out: “Police often don’t pursue a prosecution so, if they don’t, we will. At a minimum surely a careless or dangerous driving offence should be imposed given the potential for disaster. This is becoming an increasingly serious problem not just for us but for the national railway network and other heritage railways. I would welcome more severe penalties not just for drivers but for the operating companies as well.
"The seriousness of this issue must be driven home before someone gets killed."
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