ORR recognises level crossing problems

03 December 2009

Train drivers’ union ASLEF said today that the proposals from the rail regulator to reduce level crossing accidents were ‘welcome, if limited’. ‘We welcome any measures to stop the regular carnage caused by open level crossings, but feel these proposals smack of ‘fire-fighting’ rather than providing long-term solutions,’ said the union’s general secretary Keith Norman.


The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has proposed


• continued support for the Law Commissions’ work to update level crossing legislation so that it is fit for purpose for the 21st century;

• pressing the Sentencing Guidelines Council to increase suggested penalties for level crossing misuse by motorists;

• publication of revised ORR guidance on level crossings by Spring 2010; and

• inspecting all automatic open level crossings (AOCLs) over the next year to ensure that risks are properly managed and in compliance with safety legislation.


ASLEF officer Kevin Lindsay argued that these measures should constitute the norm rather than be presented as a new initiative. ‘The ORR says these measures will help to achieve its ‘vision of zero workforce and industry-caused passenger fatalities’. The solution to that is to work towards the total elimination of open crossings. We hope these proposals will help limit the number of deaths – but they will not end them.’


ASLEF says its own initiative in recommending that its members slow down to 20 mph is likely to have a more significant effect on ending these ‘needless fatalities.’


Keith Norman says that the ORR statement that ‘major incidents at level crossings are rare’ looks like complacency. ‘Try telling the families of the dead that they were not involved in a major incident,’ he said.

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