New safety measures for Eastern Hutt Road Bridge; message for truck drivers

18 June 2015 5:05PM

Trucks that strike rail bridges create a significant risk for rail passengers and staff, as well as exposing drivers and their companies to the cost of repairs, and KiwiRail’s message is always check your height before you drive under a bridge.

KiwiRail Incident Recovery Manager, Emma Cowell, is reminding all drivers to check the height of their vehicle or load following yesterday’s incident when a truck struck the Eastern Hutt Road Bridge in Upper Hutt. “It was fortunate that this did not cause any major damage or disruption to both road and rail services in the area. “Our message to those driving trucks and heavy vehicles and travelling on Eastern Hutt Road is to always obey the road signs that give plenty of warning that they are approaching a low bridge. If you think your vehicle or load is above the clearance height of 4.15 metres then do not try and pass underneath this bridge and take an alternative route.” Ms Cowell says that the bridge is located on a major rail passenger route that carries over 220 Tranz Metro services, along with a number of freight services, every week. “Damage to a bridge from a strike can include weakening of the structure itself, misalignment of the tracks, or part of the structure falling on to the road. All rail services on the line need to be suspended causing disruption to peoples’ travel plans as the bridge must be closed for safety reasons.” There were 17 strike incidents with the bridge between January 2006 and January 2015 all involving over height trucks. “Anyone involved in a bridge strike, or is witness to one, should report it to KiwiRail on 0800 801 070 or to Police immediately so the bridge can be inspected and the necessary repair can be undertaken. It is important that trains do not travel over a damaged or seriously compromised structure placing the safety of passengers and our staff at risk.” Ms Cowell says that any driver that collides with a rail bridge could be liable for the cost of repairing the damage as could their company. “KiwiRail is starting work to install new impact beams to protect the bridge later this month and there will be further improvements that will increase the clearance of the bridge later this year. “However in the meantime, our aim is to prevent bridge strikes before they happen, and that is why we are publicly asking all motorists to watch out for the signs and only pass under a bridge when it is safe for them to do so.”