New technology launched today as near misses involving children at level crossings in Anglia expected to rise over the summer holidays: Distraction campaign Summer 2017

Monday 17 Jul 2017

New technology launched today as near misses involving children at level crossings in Anglia expected to rise over the summer holidays


New technology goes live today at level crossings in Anglia, as new figures from Network Rail¹ reveal that young people are more likely to have a near miss at a level crossing during the summer.  Light nights, coupled with the summer holidays, spell danger for Britain’s youth with August and early September seeing near misses at level crossings rise significantly¹.

Many of them will simply be distracted when crossing the railway, either by their friends, their phones or their cameras. To help combat the issue of distraction at level crossings, Network Rail and British Transport Police have introduced geo- targeting at a number of level crossings across the region, where phone distraction has been flagged as high risk. The system will alert young people using their phones near level crossings to put them away.

The technology has been installed at Littleport station level crossing in Cambridgeshire, where there have been 126 incidents in the last year and trains pass at up to 60mph.

It has also been installed at:

  • Wharf Road level crossing, Broxbourne
  • Waterbeach level crossing, Cambridgeshire
  • Purfleet level crossing, Thurrock
  • Enfield Lock level crossing, Enfield
  • Windmill Lane level crossing, Broxbourne
  • Ely station north level crossing, Ely

Darren Lincoln, Network Rail’s level crossing manager based at Ely describes an incident in this short video where a person wearing earphones stepped in front of a train at a level crossing.


Richard Tew, Network Rail’s head of route safety for Anglia, explains: “Many people are aware of the issue of distraction for drivers, but it is very worrying that so many young adults admit to putting themselves at unnecessary risk by getting distracted when crossing the railway.

“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 paying attention to the warnings at level crossings and avoiding distractions, we can all keep ourselves out of harm’s way.”

Tina Hughes lost her daughter Olivia at Elsenham level crossing in December 2005 whilst on way to a Christmas shopping trip with her friend. Due to her tragic loss, Tina knows just how important it is to raise awareness of the dangers at crossings and explains why she is such a supporter of Network Rail’s safety campaigns.

Tina said: “Olivia and her friend waited for one train to pass, walked out and were hit by another train heading in the other direction. She was just 14 years old. My life has never been the same since and I would never want another parent to go through the same pain. I have campaigned tirelessly since the death of my daughter to make sure risk around level crossings is managed better.

“Network Rail invited me to work with them in 2011 so I could improve the way level crossings are managed and to make sure risk is reduced as much as possible. They have made huge strides to improve level crossings safety since the failings that happened at Elsenham. The campaigns they run are a huge part of this and I know that distraction is a huge issue at level crossings. If sharing what happened to Olivia encourages just one parent to warn their child about the dangers at level crossings then telling my story is worth it.”

New data also reveals that over two thirds (70 per cent) of near misses are due to distraction. With the top three distractions at level crossings highlighted as friends (40 per cent), headphones (20 per cent) and mobile phones (12 per cent). Almost a third (29%) of young adults admit to using their mobile phone while crossing the railway. A huge 95 per cent of under 25 year olds report owning a smart phone and spend twice the amount of time on their mobile than the average user².

While Britain still has the safest rail network in Europe, level crossings are one of the biggest public safety risks on the railway. In the last five years there have been more than 2,000 incidents on level crossings involving young people¹. 

Network Rail’s army of over 100 level crossing and community safety managers will also be raising awareness of rail safety right across the rail network by holding safety events and encouraging young people to stay alert when on the rail network.

To find out more about how to stay safe when using level crossings visit

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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