Wednesday 3 Oct 2018
Rail industry urges drivers to understand the risks at level crossings
Network Rail Wales and Borders and British Transport Police are urging drivers to understand the risks at level crossings after new research reveals over a third of drivers in Wales and Borders have never been taught how to use a level crossing, (34 per cent), leaving them more likely to be unaware of the dangers and more likely to take risks.
In the last five years, there have been eight collisions between a vehicle and a train on the Wales and Borders network, with 59 ‘near misses’ reported by train drivers.
While Britain has the safest rail network in Europe, level crossings are one of the biggest public safety risks, and with 1,150 level crossings, a staggering one fifth of all level crossings on the Great British rail network are in Wales and Borders.
Worryingly, the findings showed almost a fifth of drivers (18 per cent) would go straight over a level crossing if they had checked the train timetable and believed no train was coming. This is particularly dangerous as freight trains or other trains not listed on the public timetable often pass through level crossings at speeds of up to 100mph.
The study revealed nearly half of the drivers surveyed (44 per cent) were most distracted by their own thoughts, with over a third stating that passengers also caused a distraction (34 per cent).
Bill Kelly, route managing director for Network Rail in Wales and Borders, said: “It’s clear that there is a lack of knowledge around how dangerous railway crossings can be. We are seeing drivers take risks at level crossings every day - putting themselves and others in danger. Nothing is worth risking your life over, just to save a few minutes of time.”
“We are investing more than £100m to improve level crossing safety across Britain as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan, but we also need drivers to obey the law at level crossings. By staying behind the barrier until it is safe to cross and paying attention to the warnings at level crossings, we can all keep ourselves and those in our vehicles out of harm’s way.”
Inspector Phil Hyatt from British Transport Police said: “We run a number of activities at level crossings throughout the UK. We want to raise awareness, help to educate drivers in how best to use level crossings, and highlight the potential dangers and consequences of deliberate misuse. Failing to stop when the lights come on, or worse still when the barriers start to come down, not only puts you and others in danger but these are also offences which will lead to you being prosecuted.”
Network Rail’s 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, and encourage people to stay alert and avoid distractions when using a level crossing. Remember to:
- ALWAYS follow instructions on signs and obey audible and visual warnings of approaching trains
- ALWAYS be prepared to stop and REMEMBER that there might be more than one train coming
- NEVER drive through red lights or around barriers, they are there to protect you
- If you are unsure how to cross safely, use the telephone (if one is provided) or find an alternative route
- NEVER drive onto a level crossing unless your exit is clear
To find out more about level crossing safety visit www.networkrail.co.uk/drivers
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.