Ironic Award For Notorious Raynes Park Rail Bridge

Lower Downs Bridge is struck more than almost any other British rail bridge

Sign by Lower Downs rail bridge

Pic by @markvauxhall

An ironic 'Certificate of Achievement' has been pinned to a post next to local railway bridge which is the second most crashed into rail bridge in Britain.

Network Rail says Lower Downs Bridge in Raynes Park, which is a traffic cut-through to Wimbledon's Worple Road, has been struck 18 times this year.

It is now the second most crashed into Network Rail railway bridge in the country, beaten only by Stonea Bridge, Cambridgeshire, which was hit 33 times in 2023.

According to the figures, this year represents a 50% year-on-year increase in strikes into the 7ft 9ins tall bridge.

Since Network Rail unveiled its latest figures, @markvauxhall noticed a prankster had pinned the above sign to a nearby post. Not long after the sign appeared, a van

Drivers find the bridge particularly tricky because it is an arch bridge, meaning vehicles just under clearance must use the exact middle of the road.

Not long after the sign appeared, a van driver made a mis-calculation and the roof of his van was ruined, with debris scattered on the road.

Local resident Cheryl Cavanagh tweeted as @xchezzacx: "Bravo to the driver for being the latest to note know the height of their own vehicle and destroyed it going through the bridge at Lower Downs Road.

"Debris everywhere trying to get through with my dogs a challenge. Just as this sign got taped up outside. Oh, the timing".

The rail line above the bridge has four tracks of the South Western Main Line run over it, carrying the South Western Railway (SWR) service between Waterloo, Clapham Junction, Kingston, Surbiton, Portsmouth, Southampton and Exeter. It is one of the busiest railway lines in the UK.

Network Rail says as well as being costly, bridge strikes can cause lots of delays and have a knock-on-effect to passenger services. While numbers are low in Network Rail 's Southern region which encompasses all of London south of the Thames, on average 1.17 bridges are hit every day and Network Rail is looking for ways to reduce this further by installing cameras at some sites to aide quicker response times.

John Halsall, Network Rail's managing director for the Southern region, said: "The impact of bridge strikes can have a long-lasting effect for both train and road users. Not only are bridge strikes dangerous, disruptive and costly but the money used to fix the damage could be used to improve infrastructure elsewhere on the route."

Network Rail runs a "Wise Up, Size Up" which aims to remind drivers to take better care by understanding the height of their vehicles and choosing suitable routes before starting their journeys. Even if a crash doesn't actually damage a bridge, it still has to be checked which causes hours of disruption to train services and costs money.

Mr Halsall added: "The importance of this campaign is to urge drivers to plan ahead before setting out and checking that the route they've chosen is suitable for larger, heavy goods vehicles. We'd like to thank those who are and continue to take extra care when driving, especially over the festive period when the volume of traffic increases on the roads."

November 20, 2022