Queensland Rail (QR) is urging road users to remain vigilant these school holidays, with more than 250 drivers caught colliding with rail bridges across its network since mid-2018 resulting in more than 1,000 service delays and the pursuit of $203,000 in repair costs from offenders.
Trucks are damaged again and again and a vehicle's solar panel goes flying in just some of the examples released by QR today, as a plea for others to remain safe and vigilant.
Queensland Rail's Acting CEO Kat Stapleton said bridge strikes were completely avoidable if motorists pay attention to their surroundings, heed the warnings – including height clearance signage – and keep the height and load of their vehicle front of mind.
"These incidents are not only extremely dangerous, but they can cause costly damage and frustrating delays for road and rail users," Ms Stapleton said.
"From 1 July 2018 to 30 November 2021, 253 bridge strikes were reported on the Queensland Rail network, resulting in 1,109 service delays in the South East corner. We're seeing more than one of these incidents on our network per week, which is far too many.
"With the holiday season here and more people on our roads, Queensland Rail is releasing this confronting new footage to remind drivers of the dangers of not knowing their vehicle's height.
"Our message is clear: know the height and load of your vehicle and steer clear of rail bridges where your vehicle or load is too tall."
Ms Stapleton said Queensland Rail was committed to reducing the likelihood of bridge strikes and their impact through signage, engineering solutions and working with the Queensland Police Service on enforcement.
"Preventative measures can vary from site to site, ranging from signage to bridge protection beams and height chimes," she said.
"In the past five years, Queensland Rail has invested $15.5 million to install bridge protection beams on approach to 14 high priority bridges across South East Queensland to prevent over-height vehicles from colliding with the bridge and minimising train delays.
"As part of this program, a beam was recently installed at the Muriel Avenue rail bridge in Rocklea, one of SEQ's most notorious bridge strike locations.
"Queensland Rail has also installed 43 bridge impact detection systems across the SEQ network, with sensors and CCTV cameras which automatically detect incidents and alert Queensland Rail for a speedy response, including remote inspections.
"Motorists who damage rail infrastructure can be fined up to $1,102 and four demerit points and if the matter goes to court the maximum penalty for causing damage to rail infrastructure is 80 penalty units (approximately $11,028).
"Queensland Rail also actively pursues motorists for the cost of repairs for damage. From 1 July 2018 to 30 November 2021, Queensland Rail recovered $203,722.03 in repair costs, with 11 claims currently underway."
RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie said the Club supported measures which helped alert drivers of their vehicle height when nearing bridges and avoid bridge strikes.
"Many rail bridges have beams indicating clearance heights or flashing warning signs which tell motorists if their vehicle is too high so they can take an appropriate detour if required," Ms Ritchie said.
"We need drivers to check their truck or load size before setting out on their journey, particularly if they're travelling somewhere they're unfamiliar with. Better education is also needed for drivers who are hiring larger vehicles which they may not be familiar with.
"Not only do bridge strikes cause major disruptions to the road and rail networks, but these collisions are a serious safety issue for commuters and bystanders.
"Please pay attention and if you're unsure of your vehicle height turn around, because it could save you thousands of dollars in damage fees and prevent a lot of chaos for commuters."
LINK TO CCTV: https://vimeo.com/660801004/0e2306595f