Rail bridge crash causes chaos for train pas­sen­gers

Surrey Advertiser - - Front Page -

SOUTH Western Rail­way (SWR) apol­o­gised af­ter pas­sen­gers had to face an evening of de­lays, can­cel­la­tions and ter­mi­nated ser­vices due to a farm de­liv­ery van strik­ing a rail bridge on Tues­day evening.

The van, car­ry­ing eggs, crashed into the bridge in Bagshot Road, Brook­wood, at around 4pm, prompt­ing Net­work Rail to shut down the cross­ing for 15 min­utes be­tween 4.20pm and 4.35pm.

Trains could not travel through Brook­wood at full speed un­til lines were fully re­opened at 4.53pm, which meant that SWR trains ran up to 40 min­utes late.

Net­work Rail spokesman Owen Johns said: “Any time we have a bridge strike re­ported we send one of our mo­bile op­er­a­tions man­agers to carry out an ini­tial in­spec­tion, to find out whether lines can re­open or whether fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion or fur­ther work is needed be­fore the lines can re­open. In this case we were able to re­open the lines very quickly.

“Bridge strikes are a prob­lem for the rail net­work where driv­ers drive ve­hi­cles that are too high for the bridge. They de­lay thou­sands of pas­sen­gers and they cost the tax­payer money.

“From our point of view we strongly ad­vise ev­ery­one to check the height of their ve­hi­cles and the height of the bridge, par­tic­u­larly if they are driv­ing lor­ries, large vans or any kind of HGV.

“They can cause se­ri­ous prob­lems. In this case the im­pact wasn’t too bad but they can cause much big­ger de­lays and much big­ger prob­lems.”

Although Net­work Rail em­pha­sised that the lines were re­opened quickly, SWR apol­o­gised to its cus­tomers as dis­rup­tions through­out its net­work lasted un­til the end of the day.

As well as the bridge strike, the op­er­a­tor also strug­gled with a bro­ken down train near Sal­is­bury and “a crew is­sue on board a train”, all within two hours be­tween 4pm and 6pm.

SWR’s head of cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence Chris­tian Neill wrote: “I am very sorry for the dis­rup­tion that some of you faced while trav­el­ling on our net­work (yes­ter­day).

“A num­ber of in­ci­dents caused sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on our ser­vices, which meant that dis­rup­tion af­fected our trains through­out the evening peak un­til the end of ser­vice.”

“While we worked to re­solve the prob­lems and get the train ser­vice back to nor­mal, the high fre­quency of ser­vice and the num­ber or trains im­pacted by these in­ci­dents meant that ser­vices were de­layed by up to 40 min­utes, can­celled, or ter­mi­nated be­fore their booked des­ti­na­tion and started from al­ter­na­tive sta­tions.”

SWR had ar­ranged for its tick­ets to be ac­cepted by other pub­lic trans­port providers to al­low cus­tomers to com­plete their jour­neys.

Mr Neill said: “I fully ap­pre­ci­ate how frus­trat­ing it is when your train ser­vice doesn’t run as planned and we are ex­tremely grate­ful for your pa­tience dur­ing the dis­rup­tion.

“We are sorry for any dif­fi­cul­ties you may have ex­pe­ri­enced.”

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