Urgent warning as children are involved in a near miss with a train in St Albans: Cotton Mill Lane level crossing

Friday 4 Aug 2017

Urgent warning as children are involved in a near miss with a train in St Albans

London North Western

Network Rail has urged the local community in St Albans to stop misusing Cotton Mill Lane level crossing following a near miss involving children last week.

There have been a worrying number of incidents of deliberate misuse recently on the crossing, which sees around 60 trains per day travel over it, on the line between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction.

The recent near miss with children on the crossing, which is on the approach to St Albans Abbey station, happened on Tuesday 25 July 2017.

Over 1,000 people per day use the crossing - making it one of the highest risk crossings. Although Britain’s railways are the safest in Europe, level crossings pose the biggest safety risk to people who come into contact with the rail network. 

During a nine day monitoring exercise earlier in the year, four near misses were recorded and a shocking 300 incidents of deliberate misuse. 

Priti Patel, head of safety for the London North Western route at Network Rail, said: “We are concerned about repeated dangerous behaviour at Cotton Mill Lane level crossing and the number of near misses that have been recorded. We are investing more than £100m to improve level crossing safety across Britain, but we also need everyone who uses them to do their bit too.

“We cannot stress enough the danger cyclists, pedestrians and motorists are placing themselves in when they don’t use a crossing safely. A split second decision can have life changing consequences, not only for those involved, but also for their family and friends, train drivers and railway workers.

"Please - never take chances when using level crossings and if you have any concerns always contact Network Rail or British Transport Police."

Inspector Becky Warren, British Transport Police (BTP), said: “The children who narrowly missed being hit by a train are the lucky ones. Sadly there are many people who have not been as fortunate, and I have had the heart breaking job of telling families that their loved ones has been killed at crossings or on the tracks.

“Despite our constant warnings about using crossings safely and the dangers of the railway, incredibly some people are still willing to put their lives on the line by ignoring crossing instructions, not looking properly or by trying to dash across crossings when trains are approaching. 

"Most accidents are as a result of impatience; not being prepared to wait and trying to beat the train. People risk their lives thinking it won’t happen to me, but it can and it does and it’s simply not worth the risk.”

Network Rail is currently working with the local council to find an alternative solution to a level crossing at this site in the long term and is currently making a series of changes to improve safety. These include moving the whistleboards - which prompt train drivers to sound the horn as a warning - closer to the crossing, and making improvements to the crossing surface. 

Network Rail will be joined by British Transport Police at the crossing over the summer months to talk to users about safety at the crossing.

To find out how to stay safe when using level crossings, visit www.networkrail.co.uk/level-crossings

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 -London North Western route
0330 854 0100

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.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk