MP should get real over Devon coast avoiding line

Martin McGinty makes the point (issue 240) that Sarah Woolaston MP lacks understanding of Devon and Cornwall’s need for a second railway line using the Okehampton/Plymouth route.

He suggests that she needs to wake up. I have to agree.

I spend a lot of my time in the South Hams which is in her constituency and it is no surprise to me that she doesn’t understand the needs of the area she represents.

In the same issue we read again the depressing news that a bridge strike has caused disruption on the rail network. This is an almost daily occurrence and it happens for a number of reasons.

I have held a HGV and PSV entitlement for many years and I understand how easily a driver can be distracted, usually on a route he (or she) is not familiar with, with a resultant bridge strike.

However, the cost can be mitigated by the very simple use of ‘goal posts’. This would cost a fraction of the amount spent on repairs and rail replacement.

In most locations a set of steel ‘goal posts’ could be erected about 50 metres before the bridge so that any vehicle too high will hit this instead of the bridge.

There are more sophisticated options which avoid serious damage to the bus or lorry but these are more expensive. They include sensors and flashing lights and audible warning alarms.

In reality if the vehicle is going to hit the very solid steel or concrete bridge it will suffer a lot of damage and far better that this is on the goal posts than on the bridge itself.

‘Goal posts’ have been used for years on construction sites to protect lorries and diggers from hitting overhead power lines and hundreds of lives have undoubtedly been saved as a result.

I simply don’t understand why Network Rail hasn’t installed these posts up until now. In Bristol, for example, there are bridges which have suffered repeated strikes and still there is nothing to stop more lorries and buses hitting them. Those at Gypsy Patch Lane and Whitby Road come instantly to mind.

Can someone from Network Rail explain their reluctance to use this cheap and obvious protection method?

Gerald Creed, Clutton, Bristol

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