Network Rail engineers complete ‘complex’ bridge repair in Plymouth after lorry strike

A railway bridge at Ashford Hill in Plymouth has been repaired after being hit by a Tesco lorry last Monday. The bridge strike led to trains being stopped on the line between western Devon, Cornwall and the rest of the UK. The lorry was removed on Tuesday afternoon, but Network Rail said “huge cracks” developed after the crash.

Network Rail capital delivery director Stuart Calvert has now outlined the work that was needed to reopen the bridge. “Our teams have worked exceptionally hard, from the first people who came to site to assess the situation to work out how we could remove the lorry, to working out what we needed to do to recover it and then to do the recovery,” he said. “So it’s been a really big complex job.

This is a bridge from the 1840s – a traditional stone bridge, and you can see the damage on the bridge. It’s lifted stones. We’ve had to pin stones.

We’re going to have to take some of the bridge apart and rebuild it in the traditional way so it’s a really skilled job.”

?Great news – we have successfully repaired the railway bridge at Ashford Hill in Plymouth ?As a result @GWRHelp @CrossCountryUK will be able resume normal services by tomorrow morning. ?Stuart Calvert reviews the efforts that have gone into reopening this bridge.

— Network Rail Western (@networkrailwest) September 3, 2021

Last week Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy warned of the possibility of a “catastrophic accident” on the UK’s rail network, following a spate of bridge strikes. Hendy’s warning came after a number of recent rail bridge strikes across the country, which have highlighted the scale of the challenge posed to Network Rail. On Tuesday (31 August) alone, there were nine collisions.

Bridges were hit in Romsey, Luton, Marston East, Earley, Ulverston, Redhill, Coton, Darlington and Cadwell. Meanwhile, roads and rail services in Mid Wales were disrupted on Wednesday morning after a tipper truck struck a railway bridge. Hendy told NCE: “A lorry or bus hitting a railway bridge isn’t an accident.

It’s a failure of professional operators and drivers to properly plan their routes and know the height of their vehicles, and can cause fatalities and serious injuries for road users, delays for both road and rail travellers, and could cause a catastrophic railway accident.”

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