Latest Rail News

03.06.15

RAIB tells Network Rail to look into the use of level crossings following fatality

Network Rail needs to seek a better understanding of the use of level crossings, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has determined following an investigation into a level crossing accident that led to the death of a motorcyclist.

The incident happened at around 6:45pm on 11 May 2014, when a passenger train approaching the village of Frampton Mansell, in Gloucestershire, struck a motorcycle on Frampton level crossing, killing the rider.

The motorcyclist was crossing the railway on a trail bike as the last of a group of three riders who had reached the level crossing along an unsurfaced track leading from a minor road near the village of Sapperton.

According to the RAIB report, signage on the approach to the crossing instructed people to use a telephone located close to the crossing to check with a signaller whether it was safe to cross, but the bikers thought they could cross just by looking to check if a train was approaching.

However a curve in the railway meant that they could not rely on seeing an approaching train.

The train’s warning horn was sounded as it approached, but the trail bike riders could not hear this because the loud bike engines and they were wearing full-face crash helmets.

Another factor the RAIB considered in their report was that the general public were not permitted to take vehicles onto the crossing; however there were no signs on the approach explaining this.

The RAIB report said that Network Rail had received some information that trail bikers were using the crossing, but had not taken effective action to manage the associated risk of unsafe use.

As a result of its investigation the RAIB recommended that Network Rail seek a better understanding of actual (not only permitted) use of level crossings, and, in conjunction with highway authorities, to raise public awareness of locations where the general public are not permitted to take vehicles onto level crossings.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Manek Dubash   05/06/2015 at 12:24

Having read the report, this sad incident has similarities with a number of other such incidents, where level crossing users have effectively become their own worst enemies. The report makes suggests about whistle boards and their usage, about signage and juggling them around, using more cautionary language and so on but, ultimately, despite NR's legal obligations under the HSAW Act, there's a limit to what any such authority can do to protect people who don't take sufficient care when crossing the railway. Eliminating crossings can only go so far, and clearly, this particular crossing will never justify its replacement by a bridge or underpass. It's no solace for the poor lad's parents and friends, but there's little more that NR can do in mitigation, it seems to me, other than the recommended public awareness campaign.

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