‘Shocking and frustrating’: Nine bridge strikes in 48 hours

Earlier this week in south-east Queensland, there were nine bridge strikes in only 48 hours, prompting Queensland Rail to issue an urgent warning to drivers of over-height vehicles.

Queensland Rail executive general manager of assets Sarah Dixon said the spate of bridge and protection beam strikes earlier this week is worrying – and is urging drivers of trucks, buses and caravans to watch where they’re going.

“Nine hits in 48 hours due to careless driving is shocking and frustrating,” Dixon said.

Incidents occurred at the following bridges:

Image: Queensland Rail

“Thankfully, only one of these was a vehicle striking one of our rail bridges, the remaining eight incidents saw vehicles strike protection beams, stopping them in their tracks before they could damage a rail bridge,” added Dixon.

The protection beams meant that impacts to rail services were minimal, however led to traffic disruptions.

“Each protection beam strike would have been a bridge strike if we hadn’t had this important infrastructure in place,” said Dixon.

“When our bridges are struck, we immediately halt rail traffic to assess the damage to ensure it’s safe to run trains.

“We’re pleading with drivers of large vehicles, like trucks, caravans or loaded trailers, to plan their route, obey the road signs and signals and know their height.”

Dixon said while no trains were impacted by the Countess Street protection beam strike on Monday (15 April) there was a significant impact to road traffic.

“Frustratingly, the next day, another truck got wedged under the bridge at Logan Road, Buranda which stopped trains and caused delays to the Cleveland line while our crews worked quickly to assess and repair the damage,” she said.

Last year, bridge strikes were the cause of around 200 hours of rail delays. “Every strike has the potential to cause harm to drivers and the public. They are completely avoidable if drivers pay attention and plan their route,” added Dixon.

She said every low clearance bridge was fitted with signage with many featuring extra preventative measures ranging from protection beams to height chimes.

“We’ve invested $15.5 million to install bridge protection beams on approach to 14 high priority bridges across south east Queensland to prevent over-height vehicles from hitting bridges and to minimise train delays,” she said.

“We’ve also installed 42 bridge impact detection systems which include sensors and CCTV cameras that automatically detect incidents and alert us so we can quickly respond.”

Apart from causing serious risk to road users and delaying passenger trains, motorists who damage rail infrastructure can be fined up to $1238 and four demerit points and, if the matter goes to court, the maximum penalty for causing damage to rail infrastructure is 80 penalty units (approximately $12,384).

If drivers are involved in, or witness a bridge strike, it should be immediately reported to Queensland Rail using the telephone number on the identification plate fixed to the bridge or by calling Emergency Network Control on 1800 079 303.

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