Nearly 100 operators involved in bridge strikes have been reported to the traffic commissioner in the last 12 months, figures reveal.

The office of the traffic commissioner (OTC) said of the 99 firms involved in these incidents, 12 were subsequently called to public inquiries and 22 dealt with at preliminary hearings.

Others received warning letters.

The figures emerged as Network Rail said it had received a “fantastic response” across the haulage industry to its ‘Wise Up, Size Up’ campaign and bridge strikes had reduced by 11.3% in the last year.

Network Rail began referring incidents to the traffic commissioner after the numbers increased and the cost to the taxpayer in repairs and disruption topped £23m a year.

Last year there were 1,787 bridge reported strikes.

Of these, 328 locations received multiple strikes and the most costly single strike amounted to £1.8m in train delay costs.

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In March, a skip lorry seriously damaged a railway bridge on a key freight route in Warwickshire, resulting in repair work that cost £200,000.

The OTC said it did not record the reasons why a PI was called and that it could be that a bridge strike was not the reason.

A spokesman added that some cases are ongoing and may proceed to a PI: “The traffic commissioners for Great Britain take bridge strikes seriously,” he said.

“Not only do they pose a threat to public safety, they also cause disruption and delay on Britain’s rail and road networks.

“The responsibility for avoiding bridge strikes falls on all operators and transport managers.

“They must make sure routes are planned in advance to reduce the risk of bridge strikes, while giving their drivers all the training and information they need.”

Network Rail said it was aware of 23 cases referred to the TC between September and November 2019, but that “delay minutes” had reduced from 204,013 to 150,300 this year: “There is still a lot more work to be done and we are fully-committed to bringing these numbers down further,” a Network Rail spokesman added.

“We’re working very closely with a number of partners in the industry on another phase of activity as part of the campaign for October this year, where we traditionally see a spike in the number of bridge strikes.”