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750 level crossings closed in four years

Network Rail has hit its target on level crossing safety – closing 750 in four years. This represents 10% of all Britain’s level crossings, which contributes to a reduction in overall level crossing risk by 25%.

Over the next five years, Network Rail has committed to close 500 more.

Since 2010, investment of £131m has helped to deliver 38 replacement footbridges, 57 new spoken warning systems installed, obstacle detection radar technology at 13 crossings, new barrier technology at 33 sites, warning lights at 16, the installation of 250 power-operated gate openers, 21 safety cameras, 13 mobile camera enforcement vans operated by BTP, a national advert to warn the public of level crossing danger, and a schools awareness campaign.

In 2013 there were 10 accidental fatalities at level crossings.

Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations for Network Rail, said: “Britain’s railway is safer than ever before, but even so there will always be a certain level of risk to motorists or pedestrians where a road, footpath or cycleway crosses the tracks. Network Rail is committed to reduce that risk as much as possible and if we are able to close a level crossing, we will.

“Reaching our target to close 750 crossings in four years is good news for Network Rail, train operators and of course the public, but we cannot be complacent. There is much more we can do to make the level crossings that remain safer and we will continue to introduce new technology, upgrade crossings to include lights or barriers where appropriate and work with schools, communities and other organisations to spread awareness of our safety message.

“We've pledged to close a further 500 level crossings in the next five years. Successfully closing a crossing isn't always a straightforward process, so we will need the support from local authorities, landowners and the public to help us achieve our new target and improve safety further still.”

Ian Prosser, director of railway safety at the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said: “We welcome Network Rail’s closure of Cardells crossing in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. To remove 750 level crossings or ten per cent of their total in Britain, by April 2014 is a significant achievement for the company.

“Though Britain’s level crossings are among the safest in Europe, there is no room for complacency. They still pose a significant risk to the public and ORR has recently announced millions of pounds' worth of extra funding for Network Rail to close or upgrade level crossings in the next five years.”

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Niall Rowan   24/01/2014 at 16:39

What does exactly does 'closing' mean? If it means that nobody can use it at all anymore - that's not a good news story - that's the health and safety lobby lowering the quality of life for the rest of us - again. Most people who get hit at level crossings only have themselves to blame; and in almost all cases it's the road users fault and they come off worse. Why should everyone else have to suffer for a few idiots? If 'closing' means that there is now an alternative e.g. a bridge of a mechanical barrier to stop vehicles/pedestrians then that's good. Somehow I fear the former. A parallel activity happens on the roads when they close the ability to perform right turns across the carriageway. The thousands of motorist who were stuck on the A31 for up to 6 hours yesterday would have appreciated the ability of the police to take traffic off, but all the right turns off that stretch of road have been 'closed'.

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