A Network Rail and North Lanarkshire Council project will see the replacement of the bridge deck on Bellside Bridge at Cleland, Wishaw, this month.
The decision was made following numerous bridge strikes on the local network, in the hopes of minimising their impact, allowing trains to run safely and reliably.
Stewart Lothian, Network Rail’s structures asset manager for Scotland, said “this bridge is the most bashed in the country and has been struck 56 times over the last decade causing over 3,000 minutes of delay to trains.”
He continued, “we are pleased to have been able to work with North Lanarkshire Council to find a long-term solution to this problem which will improve performance and enhance safety on our railway.”
Bridge strikes cost taxpayers millions of pounds each year, and delay thousands of passengers and road users, but most importantly are a serious health and safety hazard.
They are avoidable but unfortunately continue to affect the railway, with bridge strikes typically happening more frequently over October and November time, as the nights get longer.
Most bridge strikes happen between 10am and 11am, but numbers are high throughout the day until around 6pm, triggering hours of travel chaos.
Work will commence on Bellside Bridge on August 30th and involves raising the height of the bridge – over the A73 - to prevent damage by high-speed vehicles.
Councillor Michael McPake, Convener of the Environment and Transportation Committee said “the work at Bellside Bridge will bring significant road safety improvements for residents and businesses in Cleland, as heavy lorries will no longer need to travel through the village."
When a vehicle strikes the bridge, the bridge and rail line must be closed whilst an inspection is carried out, so traffic will be diverted through Cleland village.
The Councillor added, “thanks to our partnership work with Network Rail, a long-term solution to the problem of lorries striking the bridge will be delivered before the end of this year.”
In order for the essential work to be undertaken safely, a road closure is necessary, and a signed diversion route will be maintained over the course of 5 weeks.
The works are being completed by Story Contracting and are set to last 8 weeks. The existing bridge will be replaced with a thinner one, consequently offering additional headroom under the structure.
In doing so, it will remove the bridge’s classification as a low bridge and the need for a signed diversion route through Cleland for high sided vehicles.