Network Rail reveals Dorset's most misused level crossing: Poole High Street level crossing cyclist

Tuesday 12 Jun 2018

Network Rail reveals Dorset's most misused level crossing

Region & Route:

Network Rail has released a compilation of deliberate misuse at Poole High Street level crossing as it was revealed that more than a third of all incidents³ at level crossings in the county happen there.

Despite the warning lights and alarms going off, cyclists and pedestrians can be seen risking their lives by attempting to make the crossing ahead of passing trains.

Eighty six incidents³ were recorded at level crossings in Dorset in the last year. And of those, 36% were on Poole High Street level crossing.

Sam Pead, Network Rail’s level crossing manager for the region, said:

“The cyclists and pedestrians from this footage were extremely lucky to have avoided serious harm – the consequences could have been so much worse.

“Incidents of this nature, particularly where people think they can make it over the level crossing before the barrier closes, are worryingly common in Dorset- particularly at Poole High Street- and we are working with local authorities to educate people on the dangers of deliberately misusing crossings.

“There are no excuses for attempting to use level crossing when the lowering sequence is active - it’s not just potential criminal proceedings that you’re risking, it’s also your life.”

Network Rail continues to work with Poole Borough Council to improve education and safety enforcement at the level crossing.

This warning comes as a quarter of UK adults admit they don’t know the guidance around how to use a level crossing safely, and young people are even more clueless, with more than a third of 16 – 24 year olds feeling they are unaware¹.

While Britain has the safest rail network in Europe, level crossings are one of the biggest public safety risks as Network Rail’s 20,000 miles of track directly interfaces with about 6,000 road and footpath crossings.

Since 2013 one person has been killed on average on a level crossing every eight weeks².  In the last year there has also been a 12 per cent rise in the number of incidents³ at level crossings.

Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety at Network Rail, explains:

“A lack of knowledge around how dangerous the tracks can be means more people are not taking the proper care at level crossings and putting themselves in danger.

“We are investing more than £100m to improve level crossing safety across Britain as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan, but we also need everyone who uses level crossings to do their bit too. By understanding how to use a crossing safety and paying attention to the warnings at level crossings, we can all keep ourselves out of harm’s way.”

To find out more about level crossing safety visit: or search #BossingTheCrossing on social media.  



Notes to Editors

  1. This research was conducted by Populus on behalf of Network Rail. Populus conducted online interviews with 2,073 GB adults aged 18+, with fieldwork taking place between the 2nd and 3rd of May 2018.
  2. National Disruption Fusion Unit data (November 2017) - 32 people killed in the past 5 years
  3. ‘Incidents’ include accidental fatalities, near-miss accidents, and deliberate misuse (i.e. crossings left open, not calling the signaller back when the line has been crossed, swinging on barriers)

The incidents featured in this clip were taken between 2014 and 2017

Guidance on level crossing use

  • Most crossings have a sign and lights or bells that alert you if a train is coming. Many will also have gates that close when a train is coming. If this happens wait until the train has passed
  • When crossing tracks at a railway crossing, you should: Stop and look both ways before crossing, listen for the train coming and for warning bells, if there are lights watch for them to flash
  • Stand well back from the tracks if a train is going by
  • Never try to cross the tracks if a train is coming. It can take up to one and a half miles for a train to come to a complete stop
  • Always make sure there are no other trains coming before crossing

Contact information

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

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Network Rail press office - James Crook
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07732 644202

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.

Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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