KiwiRail cautions truck drivers going under rail bridges

18 November 2015 4:04PM

KiwiRail is warning heavy vehicle drivers of the potential dangers of bridge strikes after a truck hit the span of the bridge over Rockdale Road in Invercargill recently.

Incident Recovery Manager, Emma Cowell, says that fortunately the bridge was not seriously damaged but it is concerning that those responsible for hitting the bridge did not report it to KiwiRail. 

“This incident should have been reported immediately, so there was a period of time when it was potentially unsafe, and a risk for train services and road users.
“Drivers of trucks and heavy vehicles should always check the height of their vehicle or load before passing under a rail bridge.
“It was fortunate that the collision at Rockdale Road was not too severe and the span itself has only suffered superficial damage. If the driver had been going faster, or hit the bridge with more force, they could have weakened the structure and/or caused misalignment of the tracks.
“Either way once the damage had been discovered, the line had to be closed to allow further inspection of the bridge. Any strike causes disruption to KiwiRail’s services and often for the public.” 
KiwiRail experiences 34 bridge strikes on average per year involving over height trucks and the company has been working to reduce that number.

“The message to motorists is to always obey the road signs which give plenty of warning of a low bridge. If you think your vehicle or load is above the clearance height, then do not try to pass underneath. Take an alternative route.”  
Ms Cowell says that anyone involved in a bridge strike, or who witnesses one, should report it to KiwiRail on 0800 808 400, or to Police immediately so the bridge can be inspected and any necessary repairs undertaken. 
“The public, our staff and our trains are potentially at risk if they travel over a damaged or seriously compromised structure. Any driver who collides with a rail bridge could be liable for the cost of repairing the damage, as could their company, so please always watch your height.”  

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