A lorry stuck in a tunnel in Abbots Langley caused nine hours of traffic chaos, despite this becoming something of a recurring problem.
Police were called at around 4.45pm on June 21 to the scene of the accident at Hunton Bridge following reports that the vehicle, a Waberer’s haulage lorry, had become trapped in the low tunnel.
Fire services and a Network Rail engineer, as well as a small boy dressed in a full firefighter’s outfit, were present at the scene to help free the lorry.
The fire services tried letting the tyres down to make more room for the lorry to pass through, apparently on the advice of the small child, but this did not help and a strong winch had to be borrowed from a local car garage, eventually pulling the vehicle free at around 1.30am on June 22.
Former Three Rivers District Councillor, Chris Whately-Smith was present at the scene and said this has been a problem on more than one occasion.
He said: “The problem was that the lorry driver was Hungarian and didn’t speak English so they had to get someone to sit in the cab and take instructions as it was pulled free with the winch.
“It was dark and apparently he couldn’t see the chevrons or the restrictions and after he’d gone in, he just tried to keep going and push through.
“To look at the bridge you would know this has happened before. One of the engineers at the scene said that luckily it was a Victorian bridge and it was built to last. Had it been a modern one, it almost certainly would have been damaged.”
A Network Rail spokesperson stressed the importance of drivers knowing the dimensions of their vehicles.
They said: “At 5.10pm on Monday, 21 June, we received a report that a lorry had struck Hunton Bridge, Kings Langley.
“Trains travelled slowly while a bridge engineer visited the site and carried out an inspection of the bridge. No structural damage was found and normal working resumed at around 5.45pm.
“The lorry, which remained stuck under the bridge, was removed by emergency services at around 1.30am. The bridge was examined again, with no structural damage found.
“Hunton bridge has clear warning signage and we can’t stress enough how important it is drivers know the height and width of their vehicle and pay close attention to warning signs at bridges.
“If you’re not sure whether or not your vehicle will fit, you should look for an alternative route rather than taking a risk.”
Picture courtesy of Chris Whately-Smith