London Crossrail bans unsafe lorries from its sites

Contractors required to fit safety equipment to protect cyclists to their lorries + major construction firms announce plan to roll out similar requirements nationwide

by Tony Farrelly   February 24, 2012  

Cement lorry in London © Simon MacMichael.jpg

Crossrail, one of the biggest civil engineering projects in London's history and the largest transport infrastructure project in Europe, has moved to ban any operator whose lorries are not fitted with basic safety features particularly relating to the safety of cyclists, from working for it.

Under contracts drawn up by the the Crossrail Consortium requires lorries working on the project whether from main or sub-contractorts to be fitted with side proximity sensors, Fresnel lenses and side under-run guards. In addition Crossrail has worked with Transport for London (TfL) to fit Trixi mirrors at all junctions leading in to its sites. So far 52 junctions have been equipped with such mirrors which enable drivers to check the blindspot on their lefthand side - an area of particular danger for cyclists.

In a Crossrail statement announcing the measures Andy Mitchell, Crossrail Programme Director said: “Crossrail sets high standards for lorries operating on the project and views the safety of all road users, including cyclists, as a significant priority.

“Crossrail requires all lorries working on the Crossrail project to be fitted with additional safety features to protect cyclists. HGVs that do not comply with our increased requirements will be refused entry to Crossrail worksites and turned away incurring financial cost to individual contractors. As our contractors often work on multiple construction projects, these new safety measures will help improve lorry safety across the construction industry, delivering benefits for cyclists across London.

Crossrail also confirmed that a small number of lorries had been turned away from its sites for non-compliance with the required safety features, although Crossrail does not say in its statment whether enforcement of the safety terms of their contracts has recently been stepped up or whether they have been turning non-compliant lorries away since work on the project began.

Construction is a constant factor in all major cities but in recent years London has seen almost unprecedented levels of work taking place in and around the city centre with two massive projects in particular, the Shard Tower and the Olympic Park responsible for a huge amount of extra construction traffic. Crossrail is a project that dwarfs even the Olympics and Shard in its scale and complexity - building 21.5Km of mainline railway tunnels under Central London for a new railway line running from Shenfield in Essex to Maidenhead in Berkshire. The Crossrail project started in 2010 and is due for completion in 2018 with the main tunnelling work taking place from 2011 to 2014 at it's peak there will be 50 lorry movements of waste sold a day in and out of the project's Charing Cross site alone and that is just a fraction of the spoil that needs to be moved - 85 per cent will go by rail or river.

The scale of the project has led to a particular focus on Crossrail because at its peak it will greatly add to the number of construction lorry movement in London, a vehicle type that is disproportionate responsible for a high number of road casualties, particularly of female cyclists. between 1999 and 2004 85 per cent of the women cyclists killed on London's roads died in incidents involving HGVs.

To further try and reduce the risk to cyclists and pedestrians Crossrail has embarked on a programme of driver training including cyclist awareness training for all its drivers put together in conjunction with the London Cycling Campaign, CTC and Roadpeace - so far the company says 2000 drivers have gone through the programme.

At almost the same time as the Crossrail announcement a group representing some of the UK's biggest construction firms, the UK Contractors Group announced that it was putting together a new safety strategy for its members that would include lorries a requirement for lorries entering city centres to be fitted with similar levels of safety equipment as required by Crossrail.

The move comes in response to the Times' Cities Fit For Cycling Campaign and UKCG director Stephen Ratcliffe told the newspaper We are aware of the health and safety risk [to cyclists] and this is about finding a more cohesive and collective way to manage the issue. If the same message is coming out from 30 companies rather than just one, it is far more powerful.”

7 user comments

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now *that's* some action!

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [586 posts]
24th February 2012 - 23:32


Good news - lots of technology around that works and will alert truck drivers to the presence of a cyclist and make it safer for anyone on two wheels.


posted by OldRidgeback [2581 posts]
25th February 2012 - 15:26


Tony - I have a photo of the situation one morning outside new laboratory site currently under construction adjacent to St Pancras. This is a relatively small scale project compared to Crossrail, but queuing up Midland and Pancras Roads are at least 30 x 8 wheeler (30+ton) tipper trucks, waiting to collect spoil from the site. The reason for this huge and costly fleet to shift the spoil, became apparent whan I found I was passing one every 150-200 metres stuck in the traffic on City Road, heading for the tipping site.

Crossrail has just started digging out the station box at Paddington - the hole will be around 100 metres deep, and 200 metres long, and about 30 metres wide. It will generate a mighty large volume of spoil, weighing roughly 2 tons per cubic metre. To this we add 50Km of tunnelling at 30+ sq m cross sectional area. That works out as a mighty big tonnage on its own. The Crossrail spoil will go downriver and build a small island as a wildlife enhancement but probably not quite enough for an airport:(.

The figure for failed lorries is 31 out of 253 according to Wednesday's Evening Standard - or 12.5%. However I feel very uneasy about blind reliance on remote and automatic safety devices. An oil industry colleague wryly noted that the BP rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico might have been nipped in the bud, had someone "looked outside" the control room door rather than relying on dials and gauges for every detail. detectors either break down or give false alerts for every lamp post as a possible cyclist. And then you have the typical wear & tear seen on construction plant.

Personally I'd note that there is plenty of space between the wheels of most construction site vehicles - and indeed most rigid trucks, where the engine and gearbox can be placed, and this would permit the driving position to be dropped to place truck drivers at the same level as all other road users and completely eliminate the blind spot without any reliance on contrived interventions like a galaxy of mirrors angled in all directions, and many with distorted images from their necessary convex shape.

A further solution which no single construction project could support, but one which would drastically reduce the risks posed by trucks travelling great distances through the City, the damage to the city's streets, and the cost to the contractors of thiose massive fleets of trucks required to keep the excavator supplied with an empty truck to fill-up exists in a number of strategically located 'disused' railways, and even existing sidings that could be used.

2 tunnels with space for 2 tracks and access from the sites around King's Cross, 2 stations with tunnels and track between Moorgate and Barbican etc. Trains with capacity to remove or deliver between 1000 and 2000 Tons can be parked up for loading or unloading during the day, and moved out when the peak hour passenger operations have subsided. It is in the City's interest to deliver such facilities if major construction is to go on and not deliver damage and danger, an in doing so reduce the cost of all construction projects in the City - Haulage of material in and out is a substantial 'cost' in a project, especially when we've been getting transport far too cheaply for far too long. Making the cost noticable and even greater for those who try to do things the wrong way, will get the industry's act cleaned up.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [560 posts]
25th February 2012 - 18:24

1 Like

Good news, justs sense that the tide might be turning slowly

Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [193 posts]
25th February 2012 - 22:54


AV - Lowering the engine and gearbox of a construction truck would reduce the ground clearance. I go on a lot of construction sites and have driven across many, often in tipper trucks and on a few occasions I've been the one at the wheel. Reduced ground clearance would result in those trucks getting stuck.

hauling the muck out by train isn't a bad idea. The muckshifting operation is a major cost. But the lines into KX are very busy and disrupting them with freight trains would be an issue.


posted by OldRidgeback [2581 posts]
26th February 2012 - 10:53


Well done Crossrail folk

Now all you folks working in construction procurement, logistics and and supply chain industries can make a real positive impact by including cycle friendly initiatives like this into your nest contract tender conditions and continuous improvement measures along with other socially and environmentally useful stuff your doing Big Grin .


posted by Sudor [184 posts]
26th February 2012 - 11:27


Chapeau to Crossrail. Is the tide turning at last? Where London leads will the rest of the UK follow?

Really, though?

posted by workhard [393 posts]
26th February 2012 - 13:47