10 February 2009

Level crossing misuse

Last year a total of 3,479 level crossing offences were recorded by Network Rail (NR). The term 'offence' in this context means people risking injury or death by crossing the path of an oncoming train.

The latest figures reveal a worrying trend of level crossing misuse as, compared to figures NR released for 2003, show a 20% increase in such instances.

The YouTube video below shows two staggering examples of this type of misuse. Both examples have been shown a fair number of times on TV today, but even so, the stupidity displayed by the motorist and the pedestrian is truly astounding.

It's a sobering thought that NR claim on average, more than three motorists a week are involved in near-misses and 20 collisions took place in 2008 when those who weren't lucky enough in beating the lights got more than they bargained for.

And it's not just the lunatic in a car that could sustain serious injury, the passengers on board the train could be injured as a result of a collision and potential derailment.

Pedestrians were also putting themselves at risk with more than five a week involved in near misses and 15 people losing their lives at level crossings in 2008.

During 2008 a total of over 55 days of delays to trains and passengers were caused by level crossing misuse, costing NR around £1.8m. The company has called on judges and magistrates to take a tough line on motorists charged with jumping lights and dodging barriers to act as a clear deterrent to others.

NR has welcomed proposed changes to the Coroners and Justice Bill, currently going through Parliament, to establish a new Sentencing Council for England and Wales, with a strengthened remit to promote consistency in sentencing practice.

We take for granted that our rail journey will not result in serious injury to ourselves. We simply wouldn't be aware whether or not the journey that we were taken was subject to a level crossing offence. In many ways, we're better off not being able to see what's ahead! (GWB)