A SYSTEM pioneered in the region for prioritising railway bridge repairs in the wake of the Selby disaster could be adopted nationally.

The formula was devised by engineers from the highways departments of Durham and North Yorkshire county councils and their counterparts at Railtrack.

Using it, roads over railway bridges are assessed for safety improvements using a points system.

Points are awarded under headings such as the type of road, speed and volume of traffic and what sort of railway line runs beneath it.

Now, a national working group set up to look at the issue hopes to see the system used by authorities across the country.

Road engineers from across the UK met in Durham City yesterday to discuss the system.

Burney Johnson, head of design services at Durham County Council's highways department, said: "There was a general endorsement of the work that has been done so far."

A survey by The Northern Echo in May highlighted the perilous state of the approaches to bridges over the East Coast Main Line in the region, the majority of which had inadequate protection to stop a vehicle landing on the line.

North Yorkshire council has yet to carry out any repairs, but Durham council has carried out improvements at three bridges and is starting work on a fourth.

But local authorities are waiting for the Government to say whether they or Railtrack have to foot the bill for such work.