Crossing ‘go slow’ saves lives : the proof

12 January 2010

ASLEF’s call for its drivers to drive slowly – no more than 20 mph – over open level crossings has been praised as it was shown to have saved at least one life in a further incident at a crossing in the Highlands.

Yesterday a van driver had to be cut from the wreckage of another crash in Caithness, close to the scene of the accident in which three people died near Halkirk last year. The van struck the rear coach of the Inverness-Wick passenger train at the Hoy level crossing, near Halkirk. It hit the train a glancing blow and crashed through a wooden fence before becoming wedged between the rear of the train and a junction box.

Local councillor David Flear said, ‘There would have been another fatality at the weekend if it had not been for train drivers’ union ASLEF’s ‘go-slow’. There’s little doubt that if the train had been going at 50mph, we would have had another fatality.

‘That has resulted from the action taken by the union – not the government or Network Rail or the train operators.’

Ungated crossings account for 2% of all level crossings in the UK but a third of accidents take place at them.

Highlands MSP Dave Thompson added, ‘Fortunately, nobody appears to have been seriously hurt this time but this goes to show that this type of accident will continue to keep happening until barriers are installed for the safety of motorists, rail staff and train passengers.’

ASLEF’s Keith Norman said that it was because of the union’s position that the train was travelling at a low speed and able to halt before fully clearing the crossing. ‘It fully vindicates the union’s position,’ he says. ‘Others may talk about level crossing safety, but our union actually does something about it. I hope others, like Network Rail, will follow our lead and get serious about this continuous loss of life.’

The train driver was taken to Caithness General Hospital in Wick with a wrist injury but no one else on the train was injured.

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