VIDEO: New technology introduced as near misses involving children at South East level crossings expected to rise over the summer holidays: Distraction campaign Summer 2017

Friday 14 Jul 2017

VIDEO: New technology introduced as near misses involving children at South East level crossings expected to rise over the summer holidays

South East

New figures[1] from Network Rail reveal that young people are more likely to have a near miss at a level crossing during the summer, when lighter nights and the summer holidays mean they will be outdoors for longer.

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 are introducing geo- targeting at a number of level crossings where phone distraction has been flagged as high risk.

The system will alert people using their phones near level crossings to put them away.

One of the crossings targeted is Simpson’s foot crossing, near Sittingbourne, where this video was taken using CCTV earlier this year. The young people in the footage were identified and the dangers of their actions explained to them by Network Rail community safety manager Nicola Dooris.

She said: “Many young people simply don’t think about the dangers of the railway and parents will know how difficult it is to drag their kids away from their phones or other tech.  Those two factors together mean that we have a constant battle to get through to children to help them stay out of danger. Anything parents can do to help us could make all the difference.”

New data[1] has revealed 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 user.

Locations in the South East where the geo-targeting message will be broadcast are:

  • Dibley’s foot crossing, Chartham , near Canterbury in Kent
  • Glebe Way[2] foot crossing, Whitstable, Kent
  • Whitehall Road, level crossing, Canterbury, Kent
  • Simpson’s foot crossing, Sittingbourne, Kent
  • Teynham West foot crossing, near Faversham, Kent
  • Red Lane Holland, foot crossing, Oxted, Surrey
  • Rushford’s foot crossing, Lingfield, Surrey
  • Bourneview foot crossing, Kenley, Surrey
  • Warnham foot crossing, North Horsham, West Sussex
  • Stockbridge and Basin Road level crossings, Chichester, West Sussex

Video – how we operate Stockbridge and Basin Road crossings in Chichester

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

Inspector Becky Warren from British Transport Police (BTP) said: “Level crossings are there to help people cross the railway when it is safe to do so but pedestrians need to pay full attention when they use them.

“Sadly, our officers know the tragedy families are faced with after a loved one is killed at a level crossing. A moment of distraction, be that checking a text or changing a song, can leave devastation and heartbreak for families. 

“We regularly conduct operations at level crossings and run events across the country in conjunction with our partners in Network Rail to raise awareness on how to use crossings safely.”

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 - Chris Denham
Media relations manager (South East route)
020 3357 7969
07515 626530

About Network Rail

Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.

About the Railway Upgrade Plan

The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:

  • longer, faster more frequent trains;
  • better, more reliable infrastructure; and
  • better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: