Keep off track drivers urged to

RAILWAY level crossings are the focus of a new high level train safety campaign.

The structures carrying roads across the tracks of the north west are the focus of British Transport Police’s (BTP) new crack down.

During the campaign, BTP will be out and about, with colleagues from Network Rail and other partners.

The aim of the operation is to make people more aware of level crossings and how to use them properly – and to take action against those who do not.

And although some people still seem intent on ignoring the restrictions BTP knows the vast majority of drivers and pedestrians are law abiding.

Insp Lorna McEwan, who is overseeing the operation for BTP in the North West, said: “The aim of the operation is to reduce the number of incidents at level crossings by making the public more aware of the potential dangers and showing them how to use a crossing safely.

“We will be out and about at the crossings, in partnership with Network Rail, to educate motorists and pedestrians in the area.”

But this will not just be about education, BTP will also be taking action against anyone seen misusing the crossing.

Insp McEwan added: “People who misuse level crossings are not only putting themselves in harm’s way – they are also risking potential injury to the staff and passengers on board the trains.

“If a train collides with a car that has tried to dodge the barriers there is a very real danger of derailment which could lead to serious injuries to those on board.

“As such we will be looking to take action against anyone who is spotted misusing the crossing. We need to drive home the message that the railway in general – and level crossings in particular – need to be respected.”

There are more than 7,600 level crossings across the UK railway network and research has shown that 95 per cent of incidents at level crossings are caused by misuse with people ignoring the lights, signs or sirens.

Network Rail community safety manager Gemma Duffy, said that the rules around level crossings were “clear and simple.”

She said: “When the lights flash or the barriers are coming down, don’t cross - a train is approaching. We understand that people have busy lives and waiting can be frustrating.

“The Network Rail campaign asks ‘would it kill you to wait?’ because sadly we know that not waiting can result in tragedy – and there’s no excuse for that.

“Driving home the safety message will always be necessary because there are new drivers on the road every day, and experienced ones can become complacent. Exercises with our colleagues in BTP can make a real difference.”