Published: 12:00, 26 October 2017
The most frequently damaged railway bridges struck by vehicles in Kent has today been revealed.
Network Rail has announced incidents in the south east cost the company around £7.5 million to fix last year.
Three of the UK's top 50 are in Kent with the one over the Alkham Valley Road at Kearsney the one receiving the most clouts.
Since 2009, it has been whacked 49 times - equal to just over six times per year.
The second most common bridge to be affected is the one at Chestfield and Swalecliffe station.
That was hit 46 times in the same eight year period, according to the figures published by Network Rail.
It comes as the company urged bus and lorry drivers who take the chance without knowing the height of their vehicle to "check it, don't chance it".
The campaign was launched today in a bid to reduce and stop the number of strikes.
The other Kent bridge to feature in the UK's top 50 is at Mill Pond Road in Dartford which was clobbered 39 times between 2009 and 2017.
The last incident in Kent to happen was as recent as nine days ago when a bridge was smashed by a lorry in Dover.
Nine bridges in the south east are listed with Thurlow Park Bridge on London's south circular the most frequently bashed since 2009 - at 94 times it is the third most in Britain.
Each strike is estimated to cost £13,000 and costs taxpayers £23m a year.
Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, said: “We know that most drivers are complete professionals and take safety on the road very seriously.
"However, we know there are also some areas where we could be better across the industry to stop strikes happening and give drivers and logistics companies the tools they need to help tackle the problem more effectively.
“Bridge strikes impact the whole transport network and by working together we can provide the right training and education for logistics companies to help them support their drivers, ensure that those who do break the rules are penalised, and that we can lower the impact of strikes to the travelling public when they do happen.
"We hope the whole industry will get behind this campaign and do everything possible to stop bridge strikes."
A four point plan has been launched by Network Rail which includes engaging with haulage industries, fitting steel beams on bridges to reduce the damage, working with local authorities to ensure signs are correct and up to date and calling for stricter penalties for drivers who cause bridge strikes.
To report a bridge strike or for more details go to the Network Rail website.
More by this authorMatt Leclere