Normal service resumes after ‘criminal bridge strike’ hits Spa Valley line again

By Geoff Courtney

THE Spa Valley Railway has returned to normal operations after one of the line’s bridges was damaged by a lorry in an incident that severed the link with the national network and infuriated exasperated officials.

Their anger came to the surface after the incident in the early hours of September 15, when a lorry damaged a bridge that carries the Tunbridge Wells-based heritage line over a road between High Rocks and Groombridge stations, thus shortening its operational route and stopping trains reaching the main line station of Eridge.

Doubling up: Spa Valley Railway 0-6-0ST residents No. 62 Ugly (leading), built by Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns in 1950, and No. 72, built by Vulcan Foundry in 1945 for the War Department, at Eridge on April 23 at the head of a long train for Tunbridge Wells West. Following a lorry hitting a bridge on September 15, between the heritage line’s High Rocks and Groombridge stations, trains were temporarily unable to reach Eridge, which is the railway’s link with the national network. STEVE FOX

It was not the first time that a bridge on the five-mile railway had been hit, leading chairman Chris MacRea to describe such incidents as “criminal bridge strikes” and issue a warning about the financial implications of such accidents.

“Unfortunately this was not the first time that our bridges had been struck and damaged by over-height HGVs that have ignored road signage of the height restrictions, closing the railway while inspections and repairs are carried out.

“Legislation exists that requires the height of vehicles to be marked in the cab, for drivers to know and measure the height of their vehicles, and for road authorities to mark the height of bridges that vehicles can safely pass under. Yet time and again we are the innocent victim of these criminal bridge strikes by over-height vehicles and seem powerless to protect ourselves.

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