Some success in our campaign to end bridge strikes – a south circular technology upgrade

Many of you will be familiar with the regular delay and disruption caused by bridge strikes to the railway bridge over the South Circular in Tulse Hill. It is the most regular hit bridge in the UK – the regular collisions have caused over 200 hours of delay to Southern and Thameslink passengers in the past 12 months.

The impact of a bridge strike is incredibly disruptive – the roads are blocked, the trains are delayed and traffic is routed down residential streets. After years of inaction from TfL and Network Rail, we have been working hard to raise the profile of the problem and get some investment in solving it. We have been working with local residents, TfL officers, our MP and the London Assembly member, Flo Eshalomi AM.

The bridge’s location, near to the Tulse Hill station platforms, means it isn’t possible to raise the level, so we are petitioning for long term investment to instead lower the road in order to ensure all vehicles can fit underneath without any collision. This is a significant engineering challenge and will require substantial investment.

In the meantime, we have successfully lobbied for better technology and signage to prevent oversized lorries from attempting to go under the bridge. A detector system has been installed which is triggered by overheight vehicles. This will set off an alert to drivers that they need to stop or turn off the road before the bridge. We have had additional signage installed on the bridge, steel beams to protect it and engineers based nearby at peak hours to inspect the bridge quickly if needed, to minimise delays to train services. We have also successfully pushed for CCTV to be installed.

The cost of installation and future maintenance has been shared by TfL and Network Rail, and the systems are linked to TfL’s London Streets and Traffic Control Centre. That means the condition of the system can be monitored remotely and if a fault occurs it can be dealt with immediately. The LED signs are low energy.

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