Driver ‘could be killed at Ambergate bridge’

Campaigners fear someone could die unless urgent
 action is taken at a bridge in Ambergate which has been hit by lorries five times in six months.

As reported in last week’s News, the railway bridge next to the Hurt Arms, which supports the Midlands Mainline railway, was hit again on January 7 when articulated lorry over-turned.

The driver was not injured but suffered from shock and had to be checked out by paramedics at the scene.

Now, residents have claimed accidents are at their highest level ever at the 4.8-metre-high bridge, which was built in 1931, and are demanding highways bosses at Derbyshire County Council urgently review the situation before there is a fatality.

Borough councillor for Ambergate Maurice Gent said: “The crashes seem to be a regular thingnow, we have never had so much trouble with it as there is now.

“There could be really serious accident one day someone is going to get seriously hurt.

“We have been lucky so far, but how long can that last?”

Fellow Ambergate councillor Angela Ward said: “We are all looking for ways to stop people hitting the bridge but at the end of the day the drivers have to 
adhere to it.

“The lorries that come through there need to slow down. It’s almost as if they see the sign and think ‘let’s see what it does’.

“Every time the bridge gets hit a civil engineer has to come and look at it, you have to wonder what it is doing to the train line.”

The tally of “bridge bashes” has doubled over the past decade, reaching more than 2,000 a year, or about five a day, according to Network Rail statistics.

The problem has caused disruption and delays amounting to more than 5,000 hours and is costing the rail industry an estimated £10 million a year.

In some cases a lorry striking a railway bridge will shift the track sideways, forcing the line to be shut.

The Bullbridge and Sawmills Area Civic Society says it will be discussing the problem with highway chiefs and will be investigating whether the demolition of a bridge at nearby Sawmills on the A610 has caused lorries to use this route instead, and prompted the accidents, it says.

It has previously maintained that the bridge which was demolished in July acted as a buffer for another railway bridge on the A610, deterring lorries from using the route.

Chairman, Freda Raphael, said: “It seems such a big coincidence, we pointed out it would have repercussions.

“It’s not up to us to draw conclusions but we do wonder how much this costing the police, NHS and the people whose journeys are diverted on roads and railways?

“There are also the families of these lorry drivers who have to hear the news that they are lying in the road with injuries.”

The problem is being investigated by highways officers at Derbyshire County Council, who will report to the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Simon Spencer.

He said: “If proposals come forward to me I will give them due consideration.

“A lot of these incidents by the sound of it are down to driver error.

“As with any road safety issue there is a protocol. I will await a report from the officers. Road safety is a top priority for Derbyshire County Council.”