Level crossing shocker: footage shows children risking their lives in St Albans: Young girl balancing on rail at Cotton Lane level crossing in St Albans

Thursday 31 Aug 2017

Level crossing shocker: footage shows children risking their lives in St Albans

London North Western

A shocking video has been released by Network Rail showing children risking their lives at a St Albans level crossing.

It is hoped that parents who see the footage will speak to their children about level crossing safety before they return to school.

There have been a number of incidents of deliberate misuse recently at Cotton Mill level crossing which sees around 60 trains per day cross it between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction.

Over 1,000 people per day use the crossing and although Britain’s railways are the safest in Europe, level crossings pose the biggest safety risk to people who come into contact with the rail network. 

During nine days of monitoring earlier in the year, four near misses with trains were recorded and there were over 300 incidents of deliberate misuse. 

Priti Patel, head of safety for the London North Western route at Network Rail, said: “We are concerned about repeated dangerous behaviour at Cotton Mill Lane level crossing and the number of near misses that have been recorded.

“We cannot stress enough the danger cyclists, pedestrians and motorists are placing themselves in when they don’t use a crossing safely. A split second decision can have life changing consequences, not only for those involved, but also for their family and friends, train drivers and railway workers.

"Please - never take chances when using level crossings and if you have any concerns always contact Network Rail or British Transport Police."

Inspector Becky Warren, British Transport Police (BTP), said: “The children in the CCTV are the lucky ones as they were able to leave the crossing unscathed. Sadly there are people who have not been as fortunate, and I have had the heart breaking job of telling families that their loved one has been killed at crossings or on the tracks.

“Despite our constant warnings about using crossings safely and the dangers of the railway, incredibly some people are still willing to put their lives on the line by ignoring crossing instructions, not looking properly or by trying to dash across crossings when trains are approaching. 

"Most accidents are as a result of impatience; not being prepared to wait and trying to beat the train. People risk their lives thinking it won’t happen to me, but it can and it does and it’s simply not worth the risk.”

Network Rail is currently working with the local council to find an alternative to a level crossing at this site and is currently making a series of changes to improve safety. These include moving the whistleboards - which prompt train drivers to sound the horn as a warning - closer to the crossing and making improvements to the crossing surface. 

Network Rail and British Transport Police have been at the crossing over the summer months to talk to users about safety at the crossing.

To find out how to stay safe when using level crossings, visit www.networkrail.co.uk/level-crossings

Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office -London North Western route
0330 854 0100

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

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