A new campaign urging people to keep their dogs on a lead near level crossings was launched on 8 July by Network Rail in partnership with Dogs Trust, as it revealed there have been more than 180 incidents of near misses between dog walkers and trains and five fatalities in the past five years.
A safety film lays bare how quickly a dog off the lead can get onto the nearby tracks and a distracted owner can put themselves at risk of a fatal accident by trying to retrieve their pet.
A recent survey of dog owners by Dogs Trust revealed:
- More than two thirds (68%) acknowledged that their dogs do not always come back when called.
- A further 68% admitted they would go after their dog onto a level crossing when a train was coming to try and rescue them.
- More than two thirds (68%) admitted they don’t know the locations of level crossings when they are walking their dogs away from home.
- The majority of people (95%) backed the idea of an awareness campaign.
The campaign will be delivered locally by Network Rail’s 100 dedicated level crossing managers who will aim to link up with dog walking clubs, pet shops, and promote the safety messages at community events, where they can speak directly to level crossing users about their experiences.
"I know with my two dogs how easily they can run off and how difficult it is sometimes to call them back, so I always keep them on a lead when I’m somewhere busy like a level crossing or a road. Hundreds of level crossings run through the countryside where it might feel like you’re in a very open area, but you can actually be very close to the railway with trains travelling through at over 100mph.
It’s my job to keep people safe at level crossings, and across the country we see far too many near misses with trains and people walking their dogs. I don’t want any of these near misses turning into tragedies and so I urge anyone walking their dog close to a level crossing, to keep them on a lead and keep their pets and themselves safe from harm.
(Chris Williams, level crossing manager, Network Rail)
Find out how to use level crossings safely on our level crossings page: www.networkrail.co.uk/levelcrossings