Users misuse the level crossing.(Network Rail)
Users of the renowned Warleigh Weir beauty spot at Claverton are being urged to pay more attention to the railway after reports of five near misses with trains in as many weeks.
Near misses with trains are more likely to happen in the warmer months Network Rail has revealed, and Claverton level crossing near Bath is busier in the summer months as people head to a renowned nearby picnic and swim spot.
Between May 28 and July 6 2017 Great Western Railway (GWR) has recorded five incidents at the level crossing, with similar increases in near misses recorded across the country.
New Network Rail data also reveals that over two thirds (70 per cent) of near misses are due to people being distracted while crossing the railway; with the top three causes highlighted as:
- Friends (40 per cent),
- Headphones (20 per cent) and
- Mobile phones (12 per cent). Almost a third (29%) of young adults admit to using their mobile phone while crossing the railway
While Britain still has the safest rail network in Europe, level crossings are one of the biggest public safety risks on the railway. In the last five years there have been more than 2,000 incidents on level crossings involving young people.
Network Rail, GWR and British Transport Police are working together to inform people of the dangers of being distracted whilst using a level crossing.
Steve Melanophy, Community Safety Manager at Network Rail, explains:
“Many people are aware of the issue of distraction for drivers, but it is very worrying that so many young adults admit to putting themselves at unnecessary risk by getting distracted when crossing the railway.”
“We are investing more than £100m to improve level crossing safety across Britain as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan, but we also need everyone who uses level crossings to do their bit too. By paying attention to the warnings at level crossings and avoiding distractions, we can all keep ourselves out of harm’s way.”
GWR’s Head of Safety, Angela Prescott said:
“While recorded accidents are thankfully very rare, the railway can be a dangerous place and we would urge all those using level crossings to pay full attention taking into account their surroundings.”
Inspector Becky Warren from British Transport Police (BTP) said:
“Level crossings are there to help people cross the railway when it is safe to do so but pedestrians need to pay full attention when they use them.
“Sadly, our officers know the tragedy families are faced with after a loved one is killed at a level crossing. A moment of distraction, be that checking a text or changing a song, can leave devastation and heartbreak for families. “
To find out more about how to stay safe when using level crossings visit www.networkrail.co.uk/level-crossings/
To help combat the issue of distraction at level crossings, Network Rail and British Transport Police are embracing new technologies to help reach young people and make them more aware of the dangers. The rail infrastructure company has produced a series of virtual reality films which can be used to educate children. They are also introducing geo- fencing at a number of level crossings where phone distraction has been flagged as high risk which will alert people using their phones near level crossings to put them away.
High risk level crossings we are Geo-targeting on Western route
Exeter – Red cow crossing, EX4 4TZ
Gannicox crossing, Stroud, GL4 4AH
Gannicox Road, Stroud, GL5 4EZ
Kintbury, Station Road, RG17 9UT
Hungerford, Station Road, RG170DX
Hungerford, Standers, RG17 0SN
Maidenhead, Furze Platt ABCL SL6 6AY
Shiplake , RG9 3PA
Pewsey, Broomcroft Road, SN9 5HA
Westbury, Penliegh Park,BA133XS
Bath, Claverton crossing, BA2 7BH
Weston S Mare, Finch Close, BS228SH
Weston S Mare, Loxton Rd, BS234PP
Chard, Westford Crossing, TA204QT
Taunton , FP Crossing, TA2 8RX
Network Rail and British Transport Police will be holding safety awareness events at the crossing over the coming weeks, where we will be engaging with the public for level crossing safety and highlighting distraction, including the use of alcohol and the visual impairment this causes when assessing risk. (I have beer goggles to use – so I will be talking to groups that are seen with alcohol and getting them to use them to see for themselves the dangers they are putting themselves into – I will use an area away from the crossing and get them to do various things like, walking in a straight line, texting on phones)