Rail bridge crash causes chaos for train passengers
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.”