Union slams Halkirk crossing report

23 September 2010

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into a fatal accident at Halkirk level crossing, Caithness, on 29 September 2009- and ASLEF has reacted angrily to it finding that ‘Network Rail did not properly understand the risk at Halkirk crossing and had not taken the previous accident record into account’.

‘This amounts to irresponsibility verging on the criminal, and ignorance bordering on the insane,’ Keith Norman, general secretary of train driver's union ASLEF said. ‘It baffles me that anyone associated with the industry can fail to recognise the risks involved at level crossings, where one person a month has died for decades. Level crossings kill. Unmanned ones kill regularly. What is there not to understand?’

He added that, ‘Every time there is an accident on an unmanned level crossing ‘a deeply distasteful game of pass-the-parcel of guilt begins’.

‘This report recommends a risk assessment of the crossing. I can save them a lot of trouble. They are all inherently unsafe. That is why we advise our members to slow down their trains when they approach them.

‘What really maddens me is that we know the solutions: they are tunnels, bridges and in-cab technology to enable a driver to look further up the track than the eye can see.

‘They are all available. But no one will put up the money to stop the carnage.’

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