Spring 2020

Monitoring London’s bridges

JFTS has been awarded a new contract from Transport for London (TfL) to install its Bridgestrike monitoring system on eight bridges in West London in a bid to keep the country’s iconic underground system operating safely and efficiently.

TfL is responsible for the London Underground and surprisingly, 79% of the 249-mile underground rail network is above ground and uses over 800 bridges many of which cross busy roads. Bridge impact – where a vehicle crashes into or damages the bridge – is becoming an increasingly common problem and can seriously risk the structural integrity of the bridge, potentially putting it out of action and jeopardising the efficiencies of the transport network.

An estimated 10 bridge strikes occur every day in the UK, costing considerable sums in repairs, compensation and delays.

However, JFTS’s solution is Bridgestrike which provides an effective and reliable means of monitoring bridges remotely by offering 24/7 surveillance and instant notification when a strike occurs. It enables bridge owners and operators to manage the response to an incident effectively and where necessary, recover costs from the vehicle owner.

In 2016 JFTS installed a Bridgestrike monitoring system for TfL on a railway bridge near Watford, which carries the Metropolitan line over the busy A4145. The bridge has a restricted height of 4.3m (14’-3”) and received an unprecedented number of vehicle collisions. In the 18 months after it was installed, Bridgestrike had recorded more than 30 incidents, with the offending drivers successfully prosecuted, and damages reclaimed in 100% of cases thanks to JFTS’ images and data.

It is the success of schemes like this and two others on the TfL network which have led to the new contract which puts Bridgestrike on eight TfL bridges across London.

The Bridgestrike system comprises a custom-built suite of monitoring tools using accelerometers, video cameras and data acquisition units which feed information into JFTS’s Smart Asset Management System (SAMS) software. This provides operators elsewhere with real-time reports and clear video images of any strike allowing the bridge owner to take immediate action to close the bridge if necessary and to pursue offending vehicles for the recovery of repair costs.

Julian Allen, director of monitoring at JFTS says:

‘It is very exciting to be awarded this contract which builds on our collaboration with TfL over recent years. We are continually developing the Bridgestrike software to boost the quality of data collected and the analytics processed.’

Bridgestrike now has the ability to analyse the severity of any impact and the eight TfL bridges will be fitted with upgraded systems which offer more sophisticated data analytics of the strike. It not only immediately informs the operator and takes photos for possible prosecution, but also analyses the strike to determine what actions (if any) are required. This means no impact event is missed and appropriate maintenance can be completed and public safety protected. It also gives the bridge owner the opportunity to clearly demonstrate due diligence. 

Ash Parmar, asset manager at TfL adds:

‘We have found the Bridgestrike system to be an effective and fantastic tool for immediately notifying and alerting us of bridge strikes. It has allowed us to act as soon as a strike takes place, meaning structural integrity can be assessed and decisions made to ensure the train service operates safely and with minimal delays. The system also allows us to identify and pursue transport operators for the recovery of costs for any damage to the bridge and collect data for analysis.’

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