Another bridge strike on Thurlow Park Road

This morning another bridge strike involving a large lorry disrupted commuter trains and traffic. This bridge is the worst in London for strikes and the disruption has a huge impact and cost.

As we shared a couple of months ago, we have raised this issue with TfL and action is being taken as a result. Senior officers are looking to invest in better signage to replace the existing temporary signs before the Spring. These should provide a short term improvement – and signs can be reused so if and when they are no longer needed in Thurlow Park, we can ensure they are reinstalled elsewhere to make best use of resources.

To tackle the problem in the long term, a business case for the large amount of funding it would take to lower the road is being put together. This would also be a significant engineering challenge – there is a sewer below the south circular and the side roads like St Faith’s would need to be examined to work out how to accommodate lower junctions.

Senior TfL officers have offered to meet with Lancaster Avenue residents this month as their road is currently the diversion route for oversized vehicles. We will be discussing new signage, improving 20mph signage to reduce speeding, and the long term plans for the bridge.

Bridge strikes on the South Circular

In the last few weeks, the problems of lorries driving into the railway bridge over Thurlow Park Road near Tulse Hill have resurfaced with two recent strikes which delayed trains into London and closed off the South Circular. 

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We have been talking to local residents about the problem of this low bridge – not only is it hugely disruptive to local people, drivers and passengers, it also means most large vehicles are rerouted down Lancaster Avenue, a residential street with speed bumps and a 20mph limit. 

Cllr Anna Birley has had a number of discussions with Transport for London regarding the bridge. They have acknowledged that it is in the top ten railway bridges in the country for strikes by vehicles and that this causes huge cost and disruption to their strategic network. They have agreed that this should be a priority to fix.

However, there is no quick solution. In the short term, TfL hope to improve signage to prevent large vehicles travelling under the bridge at all. This will prevent strikes and delays but will not solve the problem of large vehicles travelling along Lancaster Avenue. We have asked that any new signage includes clear reminders of the 20mph speed limit to try to mitigate the impact of the lorries.

Anna has also ensured that officers only see this as a short term approach, and that it is essential in the longer term to either raise the bridge or lower the road so that larger vehicles can fit under the bridge without needing to divert along Lancaster Avenue. 

Officers have agreed to look at how this could be funded but are keen to stress that it would be a very difficult and expensive project. TfL have conducted an initial report into the situation and have spoken to Network Rail. They have agreed to try and conduct some tests in the road and pavement below the bridge to identify the location and depth of utilities, and we hope this can be completed over the next 6-12 months. This should help to identify viable options and will support the work we are doing to find funding.