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ÖBB is taking weighty measures to prevent impact damage from collisions: A protective shield made of 18 tons of steel for railroad bridges

ÖBB is taking weighty measures to prevent impact damage from collisions: A protective shield made of 18 tons of steel for railroad bridges
photo: Michael Fritscher / ÖBB/ÖBB is taking weighty measures to prevent impact damage from collisions: A protective shield made of 18 tons of steel for railroad bridges
18 / 07 / 2022

Greater Vienna: In the hectic Friday afternoon traffic, a truck wants to drive under a railroad bridge that is too low for it and its load. It gets stuck and damages the bridge. This carelessness sets off a long chain of events:

  • the railroad line crossing the bridge has to be closed since it is not clear whether the bridge can still withstand the high loads or even whether the tracks above it have been damaged
  • a team of bridge experts and structural engineers from the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) is deployed, has to fight its way to the scene of the accident, usually through the traffic jam that has already formed on the road, and begins to inspect the bridge and the track
  • often, the truck must first be laboriously removed by the fire department so that no further damage occurs
  • only when the experts have measured and checked everything and can give the green light can rail operations resume.

If this happened on a highly frequented line, thousands of passengers would have had to wait several hours. In the Vienna metropolitan area, an average of 29 collisions per year impede or even interrupt rail traffic.

ÖBB is now taking measures to counter this. To be precise, one of these measures weighs a whopping 18 tons, is 22 meters long, and is made of steel. Impact protection designed in this way prevents unsuitable trucks from driving under the bridge in the first place. The trucks do not even come into contact with the bridge structure but collide with the impact protection in advance if the driver is not careful.

Those bridges were selected whose closures lead to strong operational effects. For example, those in Deutschordenstraße in the 14th district or Breitenleer Straße in the 22nd district. The impact beams are moved as far away from the bridge as possible and equipped with a white-red marking as a clear warning for road users. The goal, of course, is for the truck to come to a stop before any contact is made without causing damage.

The evaluation shows: Impact protection works

Extensive preparatory work was necessary so that an impact beam like the one in Breitenleer Strasse could be installed. A look at the statistics shows that impact protection is effective. For example, not a single road closure has been necessary since the impact protection was installed on a trial basis in Deutschordenstrasse in 2020.

"Following the successful implementation in the area of the busiest line in Austria, the Vienna Schnellbahn, other hot spots are gradually scheduled for retrofitting. The focus will be on those where a collision has a particularly large impact on train operations," explains Christian Nagl, Business Unit Manager Line Management and Facility Development, ÖBB-Infrastruktur.

 

Source: ÖBB Press Releases

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