Bridges need repair 'to prevent another Selby crash'

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The Independent Online

Up to 200 bridges across railway lines need urgent repair work to prevent another crash like the one which prompted the Selby disaster, an engineer warned today.

Professor John Knapton, from Newcastle University, said cash shortages and confusion about responsibilities were delaying vital safety work.

"If action is not taken there will be a repeat of Selby. It's just a question of when," he said.

"Many bridges do not have barriers. Instead, the only thing to stop a car plunging on to the tracks is something not much stronger than a garden fence."

Cars and lorries normally end up on rail tracks several times a year following accidents, he said.

"It was only the Selby crash that brought our attention to this problem, but we now realise it is something we need to address urgently."

Prof Knapton, who has conducted research into the problem following the Selby crash, said 200 bridges were dangerous and another 500 needed work. It would cost £10 million to make them all safe.

The Government should take responsibility for organising the work because confusion over whether the Highways Agency or local authorities were responsible was causing a hold up, he said.

One of the bridges in need of repair crosses the line where the Selby crash claimed 10 lives last February.

Gary Hart, from Strubby, Lincolnshire, was jailed for five years after his Land Rover plunged off the M62 and on to the East Coast mainline last February near the North Yorkshire village of Great Heck.

Moments later, a GNER express, travelling from Newcastle to London, smashed into the Land Rover and derailed before colliding head–on with a fully–laden coal train.

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