More must be done on crossings

09 February 2009

While he welcomes any effort to make level crossings safer, ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman feels that Network Rail (NR) could do more to address a problem he says is ‘fast becoming an epidemic’. NR has called on judges and magistrates to ‘stamp down’ on motorists who jump lights and dodge barriers as it revealed that last year there were more than 3,400 recorded incidents of misuse at level crossings.

 

Keith Norman, general secretary of ASLEF, says it is about time Network Rail realised that ‘ticking off’ the public about being careless at level crossings is not enough. ‘Urgent steps need to be taken to tackle what is becoming an epidemic,’ he says.

 

Keith says that we need to phase out ‘half gate’ crossings and erect an obvious barrier across the entire road when a train is expected, and called again for CCTV to be used to beam pictures of the track ahead directly into the cab.

 

‘This system has been used in Hong Kong for over a decade, with equipment manufactured in Wales,’ Keith says.

 

He also wants more education in schools and homes about the dangers inherent on railway property and called for more understanding and sympathy for train drivers involved in these regular – but avoidable – incidents.

 

NR reported today that trains have hit 20 vehicles that had tried to drive around the barriers after the crossing lights had come on, leading to 15 fatalities. On average, more than three motorists a week are involved in a ‘near-miss’. The company says this has caused over 55 days of delays to trains and passengers, costing Network Rail around £1.8m.

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