Darling Downs drivers urged to take care at rail bridges following spike in collisions

​Motorists in the region are being urged to take care, know their vehicle’s height and load, and plan their route accordingly, following a spike in over-height vehicles colliding with the North Street rail bridge in Toowoomba.

Queensland Rail’s Head of Regional Jim Benstead said last month, Queensland Rail saw a concerning spike in bridge strikes at the North Street bridge, prompting a renewed warning for road-users.

“In January 2020, we saw truck drivers strike the North Street bridge and become trapped underneath on two separate occasions – one on the afternoon of 23 January and the other only five days later on 28 January,” he said.

“That’s more incidents in one month than we’ve seen in the past two years at this location.

“Not only are these incidents potentially dangerous, and often very distressing for the motorists involved, they can cause significant impacts to road and rail traffic while our crews work with emergency services to have the vehicle removed, and we confirm the safety and integrity of the rail bridge.”

Mr Benstead said while it was fortunate no injuries were recorded in either incident, rail traffic was required to be suspended for 30 minutes on both occasions while infrastructure crews inspected the bridge for any structural damage.

“The North Street rail bridge has a clearance of 3.5 metres and is fitted with height clearance signage on all approaches to advise motorists of the low clearance ahead,” he said.

“Bridge strikes are completely avoidable, and we’re reminding motorists of their responsibility to be aware of their vehicle’s height and load and plan their route to avoid low clearance rail bridges.

“In terms of the North Street rail bridge, an alternate route across the rail line is available at Jellicoe Street.”

Mr Benstead said Queensland Rail had been working with motorists and the trucking industry to increase awareness of the dangers and consequences of bridge strikes, and better understand driver behaviours. 

“We recently created an online survey which was sent to trucking operators and professional drivers to better understand driver awareness, behaviour, and level of preparedness. To date, 227 drivers and 88 businesses have completed the survey,” he said.

“In addition, we’ve reached out to more than 100 trucking and rental truck, caravan and campervan companies, as well as universities to educate and remind drivers of the importance of knowing their vehicle’s height and load, especially when travelling under rail bridges.

“We hope that by working with drivers and the trucking industry we can reduce the likelihood of bridge strike incidents on our network.”

Motorists who damage Queensland Rail infrastructure can face penalties of up to $10,676 and four demerit points.

Queensland Rail is committed to improving safety on its network, wherever possible. In addition to its commitment to reduce the likelihood of bridge strikes, it is also investing $3 million to upgrade 13 pedestrian crossings across South West Queensland.

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