Information published on 29 January 2014 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 383.

Safety boost as Network Rail reaches target of closing 750 level crossings

  • Level Crossings

The closure of a level crossing on the East Coast Main Line in Cambridgeshire means Network Rail has now reached its target, set in 2010, of closing 10% of Britain’s crossings – 750 in total – by April 2014, contributing to a reduction in the overall risk level crossings pose to the network by 25%.

The majority of crossings closed are, like Cardells crossing in St Neots, footpath or user worked crossings (on private land and largely used by land owner, farmers, delivery and utility vehicles but run across main line railway).

Since 2010, Network Rail has invested £131m in a national level crossings improvement programme, which by the end of March will have resulted in:

  • 38 footbridges to replace crossings
  • 57 new spoken warnings installed to announce “another train is coming” when one train has already passed through
  • Obstacle detection radar technology installed at 13 sites
    Visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25820925 to read an interview with Martin Gallagher, NR Head of Level Crossing Safety
  • New barrier technology installed at 33 sites which previously had open crossings
  • New warning lights installed at 16 crossings
  • 250 power operated gate openers installed to prevent vehicle owners crossing the tracks on foot unnecessarily or gates being left open
  • “Wavetrain” sound vibration technology trialled at Whitehouse Priory View crossing in Norfolk (visit: http://wavetrain.no )
  • GPS technology installed on the Marks Tey – Sudbury line allowing signallers to pinpoint a train’s location and provide better safety information to those requesting permission to cross
  • 21 crossings fitted with red light safety cameras to dissuade motorists from jumping the lights
  • 13 mobile safety camera enforcement vans operated by British Transport Police (see photo)
  • 100 new Network Rail level crossing managers
  • National TV and digital advertising campaign – See Track, Think Train
  • Rail Life schools awareness campaign: www.rail-life.co.uk

Network Rail has pledged to close a further 500 crossings in the next five years, investing more than £100m over this period as part of its ongoing programme of work to improve safety and reduce risk to passengers and the wider public.
Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations for Network Rail, said: “Britain’s railway is safer than ever before, but even so there will always be a certain level of risk to motorists or pedestrians where a road, footpath or cycleway crosses the tracks. Network Rail is committed to reduce that risk as much as possible and if we are able to close a level crossing, we will. Reaching our target to close 750 crossings in four years is good news for Network Rail, train operators and of course the public, but we cannot be complacent. There is much more we can do to make the level crossings that remain safer and we will continue to introduce new technology, upgrade crossings to include lights or barriers where appropriate and work with schools, communities and other organisations to spread awareness of our safety message. We’ve pledged to close a further 500 level crossings in the next five years. Successfully closing a crossing isn’t always a straightforward process, so we will need the support from local authorities, landowners and the public to help us achieve our new target and improve safety further still."

Ian Prosser, Director of Railway Safety at the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said: “We welcome Network Rail’s closure of Cardells crossing in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. To remove 750 level crossings or ten per cent of their total in Britain, by April 2014 is a significant achievement for the company. Though Britain’s level crossings are among the safest in Europe, there is no room for complacency. They still pose a significant risk to the public and ORR has recently announced millions of pounds’ worth of extra funding for Network Rail to close or upgrade level crossings in the next five years.”
In 2013, there were 10 accidental fatalities at level crossings and 10 collisions between trains and road vehicles.

Ms Hughes’s daughter, Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and her friend, Charlotte Thompson, 13, were hit by a train in 2005 as they crossed the tracks at Elsenham station footpath crossing in Essex. She joined Network Rail teams to tell her story in schools and help Network Rail improving safety at level crossings.
Tina Hughes was in hot demand and achieved nine media interviews, a combination of TV and radio. BBC Breakfast and the Today programme “are the biggest audiences on UK TV and the 7.00-7.30am slots have the highest audience and reach millions”.

Following on from her busy schedule yesterday, Tina said: “I am delighted that you got such great coverage and hope we can take opportunities in future to raise awareness on top of good news rather than just tragedies. I want to see the changes achieved by the Liability Negotiation Team, the National Level Crossing Team (Safety Improvement Programme) and wider teams in the Routes celebrated and supported and so that the attitudes and behaviours we want to see in Network Rail’s people will come naturally. I feel very proud to have been part of the team that has been delivering this phenomenal change. A big well done to all those who have been working on level crossings in Network Rail.”

Following three near misses in recent weeks, pupils at Cherry Willingham School, Lincolnshire were given the chance to hear Level Crossings Champion, Tina Hughes, tell her story on Friday 17 January 2014.

Liz Reedy, Community Safety Manager contacted Tina after meeting her at the Level Crossing Forum held at Westwood in October last year, and on hearing the about the near miss incidents, Tina was pleased to visit the school with Network Rail.
Following Tina’s visit, the school sent text messages to all parents to reinforce the level crossing safety message. Read full article:
http://www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/content/detail.aspx?ReleaseID=8084&NewsAreaId=2

Links to some of the extensive coverage achieved:
Network Rail reaches level crossing target: http://www.railnews.co.uk/news/2014/01/21-network-rail-reaches-level-crossing.html

Video and interview with Tina Hughes on BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25823017

Dangerous drivers flout level crossing rules: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/10585436/Dangerous-drivers-flout-level-crossing-rules.html
CCTV film showing cyclist in near miss at level crossing:

Mother hits out over rail crossings:

http://home.bt.com/news/uknews/mother-hits-out-over-rail-crossings-11363868937104
Notes to editors
Network Rail video “See Track, Think Train” TV advert http://bit.ly/1gQ8VLA

For more information on Network Rail’s programme of activity on level crossings including the education programme RailLife visit: http://www.networkrail.co.uk/level-crossings/
Contact information
Media Relations (National)
+ 44 20 3356 8700
mediarelations@networkrail.co.uk ; www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk
Twitter: @networkrailPR

For further information please contact Isabelle Fonverne: fonverne@uic.org