asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many road bridges over British Rail lines have been designated as having a weight limit per lorry of 32 tonnes; what advice he has received from British Railways about the cost of strengthening these bridges if lorry weights are increased; what steps are being taken to check all these structures; and at what cost.
[pursuant to his reply, 4 December 1981, c. 244.]: Road bridges over British Rail lines are the responsibility variously of the Department, local authorities and British Rail. None of the 624 such bridges for which my Department is responsible is weight-restricted and all can be used by present construction and use traffic. Comparable information for other bridge owners is not readily available.I am advised by British Rail that it has not yet fully assessed the position in respect of their road bridges specifically in relation to the heavier lorries now proposed by the Government. In the case of their own bridges the Government have reached the conclusion, after careful consideration, that for spans less than 75 metres the overall additional effect of the heavier vehicles proposed will not be significant. The same technical considerations will apply in the case of British Rail's bridges and, in the Government's view, only those relatively few structures with spans over 75 metres are likely to need attention specifically on account of the proposed new weights. The cost of this cannot yet be estimated.