West Sussex motorists and rail passengers invited to share their views on level crossing upgrade: Yapton - driver ends up on railway

Tuesday 10 Apr 2018

West Sussex motorists and rail passengers invited to share their views on level crossing upgrade

Route:
South East

Motorists and rail passengers can have their say on Network Rail’s proposals for a major upgrade to Yapton level crossing between Ford and Barnham in West Sussex. The crossing, which is used by 8,000 vehicles and 300 trains every weekday, will be upgraded from an automatic half-barrier crossing to a full-barrier crossing controlled by CCTV. 

A public meeting at Yapton Village Hall, Main Road, Yapton, BN18 0ET on Tuesday 24 April, 7.00-8.00pm will give crossing users the opportunity to hear more about the upgrade and its impact on road and rail traffic.

Regular misuse of the crossing, including motorists ignoring the warning lights and swerving around the barriers led Network Rail to introduce a speed limit on trains passing over the crossing in 2012 to reduce the risk of a collision with a road vehicle.

Red light enforcement cameras were then installed in 2017 in partnership with British Transport Police, resulting in hundreds of motorists being prosecuted for dangerous driving. However, an average of 3.7 incidents still occur each day – leading Network Rail to bring forward the crossing upgrade, which would have been required by 2025 as a result of local population and traffic growth.

John Halsall, Network Rail South East route managing director, said: “Every day at Yapton level crossing, motorists are ignoring or attempting to beat the warning lights, queuing over the crossing or weaving around barriers as trains approach. This behaviour means that a collision between a vehicle and a train is a real risk.

“This upgrade will significantly reduce the risks from dangerous driving and allow trains in the area to run at full line speed, helping to improve train punctuality and reduce delays.

“A full barrier crossing means that the barriers will be down for longer because of the way the technology works. I know this won’t be popular with some people but it will help keen rail passengers, pedestrians and motorists safe.”

Bob Lanzer, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Infrastructure, said:  “The county council and Network Rail carried out a joint exercise to see what could be done with the Lake Lane junction with Yapton Lane to reduce the risk of vehicles blocking the crossing. This was with a view to helping Network Rail continue with the automatic half-barrier crossing. However, Network Rail has concluded that this would only provide a marginal safety improvement. So the county council will work with Network Rail to see what can be done to try to manage the impact the manually controlled, full-barrier crossing will have on local traffic flow.”

Inspector Becky Warren, British Transport Police, said: "We will not hesitate to enforce the law, but convincing people to change their habits at crossings is a vital part of what we do.

"We spend a lot of time talking to schools, businesses and the local community about the importance of safe level crossing use. Every time you ignore a signal, audible warning or an amber or red light you risk your life and the lives of other rail and road users. It is not worth risking your life or a criminal record just to save a few minutes on your journey."

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