Monday 12 Oct 2009
NO MORE EXCUSES FOR LEVEL CROSSING MISUSE IN SURREY AND HAMPSHIRE
“I thought the train would slow down to let me through”.
“Lights? No, I don’t bother looking at them, I only stop when the barriers start coming down – I wouldn’t want to damage the car.”
“I thought that the train driver was giving way to me when he sounded his horn”
These are just a few of the reality-stretching excuses given by people jumping lights or weaving round barriers at level crossings, as to why they flouted the law and risked lives in order to save just a few minutes.
As Network Rail begins its autumn Don’t Run the Risk level crossing awareness campaign, it reveals the ten worst excuses given to its staff, and calls on motorists and pedestrians to stop passing the buck or telling tales and start obeying the rules at level crossings to prevent further injury or loss of life.
Between January and August this year, one motorist and 12 pedestrians in Surrey and Hampshire have narrowly avoided a potentially fatal collision with a train. Nationally, the figure for near misses at level crossings equates to three motorists per week. In total, nine people have not been so lucky, with their vehicles smashing into trains. Seven people lost their lives at level crossings during this time. Tragically five more people have lost their lives in September, bringing the year’s total so far to 12.
Iain Coucher, Network Rail chief executive commented: “The rules around level crossings are clear and simple. When the lights flash or the barriers are down, don’t cross; a train is approaching. Signs asking users to stop, look and listen or reminding you to contact the signaller before crossing are clear and must be followed. We understand that people have busy lives and waiting can be frustrating. Our campaign asks ‘would it kill you to wait?’ because sadly we know that not waiting can result in tragedy – and there’s no excuse for that.”
Notes to editors
Surrey & Hampshire level crossing statistics
- There are over 330 level crossings on the Wessex route, which covers long-distance services from London Waterloo through Surrey and Hampshire and suburban services in west London.
- Between January and August 2009, there were 13 reported incidents in Surrey and Hampshire where a train narrowly missed striking a pedestrian or vehicle:
Mount Pleasant Road, Southampton
Inlands Road, Southbourne
Tilford Road, Farnham (Next to Farnham station)
Race Course level crossing, Lingfield
Park Street, Camberley (Next to Camberley station)
Junction Road, Totton
Station Road, Addlestone (Next to Addlestone station)
Englemere, near Ascot
Station Lane, Milford (next to Milford station)
Farnborough North station
Farnborough North station
Farnborough North station
Adelaide Road, Southampton
National level crossing statistics (January to August 2009)
- 7 fatalities (5 more in September 2009. Last year 15 in total)
- 9 collisions between motor vehicles and trains (last year 20 total)
- 182 pedestrians narrowly avoided being hit by a train (last year 280 total)
- 104 motorists narrowly avoided a collision – around 4 per week. Higher than last year which was averaging 3 per week.
Ten worst excuses given to Network Rail level crossing teams by motorists and pedestrians caught breaking the rules at level crossings:
- I thought the train would slow down to let me through
- I thought that the train driver was giving way to me when he sounded his horn
- I know when the trains run around here
- Lights? No, I don’t bother looking at them, I only stop when the barriers start coming down – I wouldn’t want to damage the car.
- I’m glad you reminded me to look before crossing I don’t normally bother - mind you I was nearly knocked down by a train a few weeks ago.
- By a motorist obstructing the yellow box markings: I don’t need the likes of you to tell me about road or level crossing safety, I was a Police driving instructor for 30 years.
- I didn’t see the gate coming down as I approached the crossing – I was completely blinded by it. I was driving straight into the sun and it was also reflecting very brightly off the surface of the wet road so I could hardly see anything at all. (note Highway Code point 237 below)
- Sometimes it’s difficult to stop the horse
- The sat-nav told me to turn left so I just kept going
- I just followed the person in front of me. I didn’t look.
Whilst these are the worst examples of people breaking the rules, Network Rail's hard hitting level crossing safety campaign 'Don’t Run the Risk' is beginning to have an impact on people’s behaviour, according to research conducted for the company by Millward Brown.
An online survey this spring found:
The Highway Code
A level crossing is where a road crosses a railway or tramway line. Approach and cross it with care. Never drive onto a crossing until the road is clear on the other side and do not get too close to the car in front. Never stop or park on, or near, a crossing.
Overhead electric lines. It is dangerous to touch overhead electric lines. You MUST obey the safe height warning road signs and you should not continue forward onto the railway if your vehicle touches any height barrier or bells. The clearance available is usually 5 metres (16 feet 6 inches) but may be lower.
[Laws RTA 1988 sect 36, TSRGD 2002 reg 17(5)]
Controlled crossings. Most crossings have traffic light signals with a steady amber light, twin flashing red stop lights and an audible alarm for pedestrians.
They may have full, half or no barriers.
[Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10 & 40]
Railway telephones. If you are driving a large or slow-moving vehicle, a long, low vehicle with a risk of grounding, or herding animals, a train could arrive before you are clear of the crossing. You MUST obey any sign instructing you to use the railway telephone to obtain permission to cross. You MUST also telephone when clear of the crossing if requested to do so.
[Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10 & 16(1)]
Crossings without traffic lights. Vehicles should stop and wait at the barrier or gate when it begins to close and not cross until the barrier or gate opens.
User-operated gates or barriers. Some crossings have ‘Stop’ signs and small red and green lights. You MUST NOT cross when the red light is showing, only cross if the green light is on. If crossing with a vehicle, you should:
[Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10 & 52(2)]
If there are no lights, follow the procedure in Rule 295. Stop, look both ways and listen before you cross. If there is a railway telephone, always use it to contact the signal operator to make sure it is safe to cross. Inform the signal operator again when you are clear of the crossing.
Open crossings. These have no gates, barriers, attendant or traffic lights but will have a ‘Give Way’ sign. You should look both ways, listen and make sure there is no train coming before you cross.
Incidents and breakdowns. If your vehicle breaks down, or if you have an incident on a crossing you should:
Driving in adverse weather conditions
If you are dazzled by bright sunlight, slow down and if necessary, stop.
Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41
Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries
Network Rail press office - South East route
020 3357 7969
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.
Usually, there are almost five 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.