Rail bridge protection beams provide new level of safety
  • Wednesday 17 February 2016
Price Street bridge

Sunshine Coast Council has partnered with Queensland Rail to prevent over-height vehicles from colliding with a rail bridge in the Nambour CBD, significantly improving safety for the local community.

Local Disaster Co-ordinator Andrew Ryan said bridge protection beams had been installed on both approaches to the Price Street site, in addition to new advanced warning signage.

“The Price Street rail bridge was already fitted with a number of protection measures including height clearance and advanced warning signage, but despite this we continued to see bridge strike incidents at this location,” Mr Ryan said.

“The new beams add an extra level of protection for the rail bridge by acting as a barrier between over-height vehicles and the rail corridor, and since their installation no bridge strikes have been recorded.

“Now that the beams are in place, this means drivers of high vehicles who ignore the warning signs will strike the protection beams rather than the bridge, preventing damage to rail infrastructure.

“Collisions with low rail bridges have the potential to be extremely dangerous, but by reducing the risk of any impact to the bridge, these beams have significantly improved the safety of the site for motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and even rail staff and commuters.

“The new signs installed by council also provide advanced warning to motorists as to whether their vehicle will be too high to fit under the bridge’s 3.3 metre maximum clearance, and direct them to an alternate route.

“By supporting the rollout of these protection beams, we hope to prevent these incidents from occurring across the Coast.”

Mr Ryan said bridge strikes were the focus of council’s annual disaster training exercise in late 2014, known as "Exercise Railbrake".

“Through Exercise Railbrake, Sunshine Coast Council worked with Queensland Rail, Police, Fire, Ambulance, SES and numerous other government and voluntary agencies to act out and prepare for the unlikely event of a train derailment caused by a rail bridge strike,” Mr Ryan said.

“While this type of scenario is unlikely and has not occurred on Queensland Rail’s network before, it was a great opportunity for all agencies to work together to respond to a mock derailment, identify areas for improvement and ensure preparedness.”

“This exercise also gave key agencies the opportunity to become familiar with the unique rail environment, so they are well equipped to respond in an emergency.”

Mr Ryan said with work at Price Street now complete, Queensland Rail crews were now working to install protection beams on both approaches to a rail-over-road bridge on Back Woombye Road in Woombye.

“As the rollout of these beams continues, we’re reminding drivers of high vehicles that there are several low bridge crossings across the Sunshine Coast and they need to be aware that their vehicle can sustain considerable damage if they collide with a bridge or a protection beam,” he said.

Work to install the protection beams on Back Woombye Road will continue across the next few months.

Some partial road closures on Back Woombye Road will be scheduled while the works are completed, however closures will be scheduled in advance, with traffic management in place to direct road users.