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Stonea railway underpass has reopened - but drivers be warned the bridge is now lower than ever



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One of the country’s most hit railway bridges is repaired and strengthened allowing an underpass to re-open for the first time in over a year.

The Stonea railway bridge underpass has been closed since October 2019 after it was struck twice in one week, with the second causing 'significant' damage to the support beam, forcing the closure on safety grounds.

Since then drivers along the Sixteen Foot Road have faced tailbacks as they wait to use the railway crossing over the busy Cambridge to Peterborough line, which is operated manually and can be closed for up to 15 minutes at a time to allow trains through.

Stonea railway underpass has finally reopened after extensive repairs. (44350597)
Stonea railway underpass has finally reopened after extensive repairs. (44350597)

At the time the underpass was closed the bridge had been hit 15 times in 10 months.

This week much to the joy of drivers the repairs to the bridge have finally been completed and the underpass has reopened.

Network Rail’s engineers have worked on a repair that involved the design and installation of a new protection beam, designed to withstand future bridge strikes, making the bridge stronger than before.

This extra protection aims to minimise disruption to rail and road traffic in the event of another strike. The repair work was completed at the beginning of the month (February) and Cambridgeshire County Council has updated the signage with its new height of 2 metres - 10cm lower than before, owing to the new protection beam.

Stonea railway underpass has finally reopened after extensive repairs. (44350594)
Stonea railway underpass has finally reopened after extensive repairs. (44350594)

While the new bridge is stronger, motorists are urged to check the height of their vehicle to avoid any further strikes.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia, said: “The disruption this incident caused shows why it’s so important for motorists to know the height of the vehicle they are driving. We have carried out extensive works to make the bridge stronger, but this doesn’t mean that drivers can be complacent. Motorists should do their bit too and wise up, size up.”

Councillor John Gowing, member for March South and Rural at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “I’m pleased to see the road has reopened as this will reduce traffic in the area. The new signage will provide warning to drivers on the approach to the bridge and help prevent further accidents.

Stonea bridge was hit 15 times in 10 months before it was closed on safety grounds.
Stonea bridge was hit 15 times in 10 months before it was closed on safety grounds.

"I do understand that local residents may still have some concerns and I’d urge drivers of larger vehicles who use the route to be aware of the bridge, read the signs and check the size of your vehicle.”

Stonea bridge was the second most-hit bridge in the country in 2018 and slipped to ninth place last year, only because the road was closed.

On average, there are five bridge strikes per day and most of the vehicles that hit railway bridges are Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and buses, at a cost of around £13,000 per strike –costing the UK taxpayer around £23m in a year.

A Morrison's supermarket delivery van was among the vehicles to hit the bridge in 2019. PHOTO: Oscar Stephenson.
A Morrison's supermarket delivery van was among the vehicles to hit the bridge in 2019. PHOTO: Oscar Stephenson.

How Network Rail responds to bridge strikes: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/stories/delays-explained-bridge-strikes/

Network Rail’s ‘wise up, size up’ campaign: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/safety-in-the-community/railway-safety-campaigns/wise-up-size-up/

All kinds of vehicles have struck the bridge in the past including farm machinery.
All kinds of vehicles have struck the bridge in the past including farm machinery.


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