The Sleeper's Blog

01.03.16

Passenger awareness and safety upgrades needed to stop level crossing deaths

A new campaign from Network Rail is a reminder of the dangers of level crossings and what both members of the public and the railway industry can do to avoid fatalities.

Network Rail has launched the campaign today after finding that there have been more than 500 near misses on level crossings involving cyclists, motorists and pedestrians during peak hours for commuters (7-9am and 4-7pm).

Sadly, there have also been many incidents that were not near misses, including the deaths of 65-year-old Dennis France at the Stanmoor Road crossing in Somerset in 2013 and 52-year-old Jane Harding at Moreton-on-Lugg crossing in 2010, which led to a signalman and Network Rail being fined.

Network Rail’s new campaign reminds travellers of safety advice: amber warning lights at road level crossings means ‘stop – a train is coming’, don’t rush and try and beat the barriers or other warning systems at level crossings, beware of distractions such as phones or music, and never assume that there is only one train coming or think that you know the timetable to guess when a train might come.

84 Level crossing

However, more must also be done to minimise the risks of safety failure that level crossings still pose even when passengers act safely. Network Rail has invested £100m into improving level crossing safety as part of its £40bn Rail Upgrade Plan, with safety measures since 2010 including closing over 990 level crossings, replacing footpaths with footbridges, employing more than 100 level crossing managers, installing safety measures such as warning lights, spoken warnings and obstacle detection radar, and launching the Rail Life safety education programme in schools.

Hopefully, with continued awareness from travellers and investment from Network Rail, level crossing fatalities will eventually become a thing of the past.

(Top image c. Tim Ireland from PA Wire, bottom image c. Network Rail)

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