Network Rail troubled over bridge strikes

bridge strike

Hauliers have been warned again about checking the height of their vehicles after a skip lorry seriously damaged a railway bridge in Warwickshire, resulting in £200,000 in repairs.

Network Rail said the railway along the bridge over Warwick New Road in Leamington Spa, as well as the road itself, both had to be closed in March after “significant” damage to the bridge’s central arch was caused by the skip wagon.

Marc Vipham, Network Rail route asset manager said bridge strikes like this were entirely avoidable:

“Lorries can’t limbo,” he said.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is for drivers to know the height of their vehicle.

“Closing a key line for freight traffic has serious impacts delivering critical supplies to many key workers and institutions.”

Research carried out by Network Rail showed 43% of lorry drivers admitted to not measuring their vehicle before heading out on the road and 52% admitted to not taking low bridges into account.

To combat this, Network Rail launched its ‘Lorries can’t limbo’ campaign last year, aimed at professional HGV drivers and others who drive high-sided vehicles.

It includes online training and guidance in several languages to help drivers and logistics companies plan their routes.

In May 2019, senior traffic commissioner Richard Turfitt said bridge strikes had become a serious problem and that operators as well as drivers were being reported by Network Rail to the office of the TC for regulatory action to be taken.

There are on average five bridge strikes every day.

New front drive option for DAF tractors

DAF has entered the market for trucks fitted with occasional on-demand hydraulic front-wheel-drive systems. Its first application will be on CF and XF 4x2 tractors powered by PACCAR MX11 and MX13 engines, with other variants to follow later in the year in response to market reaction. DAF’s offering has been developed in association with the German heavy-duty and off-road conversion specialist Paul Nutzfarzeuge, hence the option’s designation PXP (Paul Xtra Power). Reflecting its specialist nature, the option will cost in the region of €25,000 (£21,700).

The system is controlled by a dashboard switch, but remains on standby until driven axle slip is detected, when the hydraulic drive to the front axle is immediately activated. The amount of drive provided is directly related to the rear axle slip detected.

The function is available in the first four forward gears and first and second reverse gears, at speeds up to 20kph. At faster speeds or in higher gears, the system automatically disengages returns to standby until needed again.

The front drive is provided by individual hydraulic hub motors, operating at 360bar to produce up to 6,435Nm of torque. The hydraulic power is provided from a PTO-driven pump and tank which can be shared with other hydraulic consumers such as hook and skip loaders.