Weighing up the cost of bridge strikes at Hinckley

A lorry stuck under the railway bridge

New research by Midlands Connect shows that bridge strikes in Hinckley have cost businesses, commuters, and residents over 4,400 hours of delays, and costs six figures to the economy, per year.

The new research, called ‘strong evidence for upgrades on a road of national importance’ describes how between 2017 and September 2022, the bridge was struck 88 times, with 246 trains delayed for a total of 2,149 minutes.

Deeper analysis into journey delays on the A5, and other key routes in Nuneaton and Hinckley on just four of those occasions in 2019, which required engagement with National Incident Liaison Officers (NILO), cost the economy an estimated £126,000 for road users.

The true figure will also be significantly higher, as this figure doesn’t account for the cost of journeys diverted onto other roads in the area and across the Midlands, or journeys cancelled due to the disruption.

In addition to the £126,000 bill, journey delays for rail passengers cost the economy an estimated £43,000, for 10 occasions in 2019 where delay was recorded.

For these 10 incidents in 2019, almost 4,000 passengers were delayed (3,971).

Commenting on the analysis, Future of Roads Programme Lead Swati Mittal said:

“The bridge at Hinckley regularly tops lists of some of Britain’s most bashed bridges but our deeper analysis into the impact shows that thousands of passengers are delayed, the economy loses a significant amount and trains are severely impacted.

“This really is strong evidence for upgrades on a road of national importance.”

Dr Luke Evans, Member of Parliament for Bosworth, said since he was elected, the Watling Street bridge has been consistently one of the ten most frequently hit bridges in the UK, and at one stage was dubbed ‘the most bashed bridge in Britain’.

"Every time it is struck it causes huge disruption, delays and diversions, costing the taxpayers both time and money," he said.

“I have and will continue to raise this issue to get it resolved, and I am pleased a recent planning application may go some way towards solving the problem by lowering the road under the bridge.

"This is a welcome solution to an issue that has blighted our community for too long.”

The MP added he recently met with roads Minister Richard Holden to - "yet again" - discuss ways to improve the A5 and unlock the area’s full potential.

“I’ll continue to work with Midlands Connect to reiterate the strategic and economic importance of our region,” he said.

Councillor Stuart Bray, Leader of Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council and a leading member of the A5 Partnership added the impact of these bridge strikes is felt across the Midlands in terms of disruption, delay and ultimately economic cost when this happens.

"It also causes untold misery to local businesses and residents in Hinckley and Bosworth," he said.

"Further significant investment in this part of the A5 corridor is therefore crucial, and with the support of partners we will continue to campaign for more investment in the A5.”

Councillor Ozzy O'Shea, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "While we don't manage and maintain the A5, the implications of bridge strikes are hugely significant as traffic is diverted on to our local road network and this evidence helps us to better understand the situation.

"It's time to fix this problem given this is one of the busiest routes through the county and crucial to the region's logistics and economy."

The economic impact of delays from Midlands Connect is calculated using economic model that assesses the lost value of time for train passengers, cars, vans, and HGVs, for business, commuting and leisure journeys to the wider economy and not them personally.

The A5 sits at the heart of the so-called “Logistics Golden Triangle” and is home to 2.89 million people and 1.32 million jobs, with an economic output of £22 billion.

However, with a further 524 hectares of employment land and 1,646,742 sqm of floorspace developed as part of local plans, and around 111,000 new homes planned and 190,000 new jobs forecasted by 2031, it is necessary to improve the A5 to ensure it can support such growth.

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