New research reveals lack of knowledge about railway dangers leads to more people taking risks at level crossings in Anglia: New research reveals lack of knowledge about railway dangers leads to more people taking risks at level crossings

Wednesday 16 May 2018

New research reveals lack of knowledge about railway dangers leads to more people taking risks at level crossings in Anglia

Region & Route:

New research from Network Rail reveals a quarter1 of Anglia residents think crossing a motorway on foot is more dangerous than crossing the railway on foot, despite the fact that trains cannot swerve out of the way. This lack of awareness is causing more people to take risks, with only 33% identifying that crossing when barriers are down and no train is coming is a risk and only 21% recognising that crossing when the lights are flashing is a risk.

The survey, carried out by Populous on behalf of Network Rail, reveals that although 89% said that they knew how to cross a level crossing safely on foot, only 6% mentioned “stop, look, listen” when asked to list guidance on crossing safely.

While Britain has the safest rail network in Europe, level crossings are one of the biggest public safety risks as 1,697 miles of track covering Anglia and east London directly interfaces with over 800 road and footpath crossings. Since 2013, there have been 1102 incidents2 at level crossings in the Anglia region, over 15 incidents every month. In the last year there has also been a 35 per cent rise in the number of incidents at level crossings in the region.

Rupert Lown, Network Rail’s director of safety for Anglia, explains: “These figures are very worrying and show that people are not always aware of the risks when using level crossings and therefore putting themselves in danger.

“We are investing more than £100m to improve level crossing safety across Britain as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, but we also need everyone who uses level crossings to do their bit too. A split second decision to ignore safety procedures can have life changing consequences for everyone involved. People risk their lives thinking it won’t happen to me, but it can and it does and it’s just not worth the risk.”

To help increase awareness of the dangers at level crossings, Network Rail is leading a national safety campaign targeted at pedestrians during the summer months. They will reach people with safety messages through social media and new technologies such as geo-targeting3 to communicate with the right people at the right time with the right safety messages. Furthermore, the rail infrastructure company has worked with EON Reality to produce a series of virtual reality films‏‏4 which can be used to educate key user groups.

Network Rail’s army of over 100 level crossing and community safety managers will continue to work with British Transport Police officers and raise awareness of level crossing safety across the rail network. They will hold safety events, offer briefings in schools and encourage people to stay alert and avoid distractions when using the railway.

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

Notes to Editors

  1. Populous rail safety survey of 2000 adults, aged 18+ years, May 2018
  2. National Disruption Fusion Unit data (November 2017) - 32 people killed in the past 5 years

‘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)

  1. Geo-targeting will combine geographical locations with social demographics at c. 300 high risk/high incident level crossings. Pedestrian audiences will be served safety adverts on mobile devices through third party apps
  2. YouTube:

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

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office - Katie Mack
Media relations manager (Anglia route)
020 3356 2515

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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