Thursday, August 26, 2010

The End Of The Line

It's time to draw Level Crossing News to a close. I no longer have the time to keep the site up-to-date, which rather defeats its purpose. I'll keep the site posted for reference purposes but won't be able to answer emails or post comments.

2010 has been a testing time for level crossing safety in the UK. Incidents such as Moreton-on-Lugg and Little Cornard show that there are still huge steps to be taken in risk reduction by both the rail industry and the general public.

My walk to work takes me across one of the most abused crossings in England, the CCTV full-barrier crossing at Spondon in Derbyshire. I see an average of four instances a week of motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians ignoring the lights. In recent weeks, with local road works diverting more traffic over the crossing, there have been several incidents involving road vehicles striking the barriers. The arrogance and ignorance on display never ceases to amaze me.

To keep up-to-date with level crossing news from around the world, I strongly recommend visiting the excellent sites run by John Tilly and Dr Unbewachter von Eisenbahn-Übergang. It's also well worth subscribing to the Google Alerts service for level/railway crossing related news and blog updates.

Thank you for your interest and support.

Simon Johnson
August 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

INCIDENT: Little Cornard UWC+T, Suffolk 17/08/10

A passenger train and a tanker collided on a user-worked crossing in Suffolk.

The two-car National Express East Anglia service from Sudbury to Marks Tey collided with a sewage tanker on the crossing which serves Anglian Water's Shalford Meadow waste treatment plant. Twenty-one injuries, some critical, were reported amongst the train crew and passengers. The train derailed but stayed upright.

The lorry driver, who was not injured, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of dangerous driving.

Network Rail are reported as saying that they received no calls to authorise use of the crossing prior to the incident.

Photo - Daily Telegraph via

Monday, April 19, 2010

INCIDENT: Waterloo Road AHB, Wokingham, Berkshire 06.03.10

A car driver died when his car was hit by a train on a Berkshire level crossing.

David Francis Brown died at the scene after his Vauxhall Corsa was struck by a passenger train at the Waterloo Road automatic half-barrier crossing. No casualties were reported on the train, which did not derail.

Photo (c) Alan WD on Panoramio

ABUSE: Wem MCB, Shropshire

Drivers continue to run the red lights at a Shropshire crossing, despite a safety campaign that highlighted the dangers.

Since August 2009 over fifty drivers have been prosecuted for failing to stop at the crossing in Wem, making it the sixth-most abused crossing in the UK.

CCTV footage of drivers running the lights can be seen here.

INCIDENT: Hoy AOCL 09.01.10

A van struck the side of a passenger train at an automatic open crossing at Hoy, near Halkirk in Scotland.

British Transport Police reported that the van driver attempted to brake but hit the rear coach of the Inverness to Wick service. He was taken to Caithness General Hospital in Wick with a wrist injury. No injuries were reported on the train, which did not derail.

National Rail stated that the crossing was working correctly at the time on the incident. British Transport Police said they had charged the van driver with a road traffic offence in connection with the accident. Train driver's union Aslef claim that the severity of the incident was mitigated as a result of their 'go-slow' policy - instructing drivers to reduce speed at AOCLs after a series of accidents in recent months.

Photo (c) Phil Williams on Geograph

Monday, January 18, 2010

INCIDENT: Moreton-on-Lugg MCB, Herefordshire 16/01/10

**updated 21/01/10*

A woman died and a man was seriously injured when a passenger train struck a car on a barrier crossing in Herefordshire. A second car was also involved in the incident.

Jane Harding died after being airlifted to hospital from the scene of the accident at Moreton-on-Lugg, Hereforshire.

Some passengers and crew of the Manchester Piccadilly to Milford Haven service were treated for shock. The train did not derail.

The crossing is controlled by a nearby signal box. It has been reported that the barriers were raised at the time of the incident. A statement from British Transport Police noted that "a thorough safety check of the level crossing was undertaken on Sunday and it was found to be in working order."

Police and Network Rail continue to investigate the cause of the crash. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch have launched an
investigation and have so far determined that there is "no evidence that the actions of the motorists or the driving of the train contributed to the accident".

In a statement released on 21st January, Network Rail say they have issued a "full and complete apology" to Jane Harding's family, saying that they consider the accident "is most likely to have been due in some way to Network Rail".

Photo (c) BBC

Thursday, January 14, 2010

VIDEO: Langley Green MCB CCTV

Network Rail have released CCTV footage of pedestrians jumping the barriers at an oft-abused crossing in the West Midlands.

Langley Green is often the focus of campaigns against crossing abuse, as reported here last year.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

INCIDENT: Hagg Lane AHB, Yorkshire 05/01/10

A car collided with a passenger train at an automatic half-barrier crossing in Yorkshire.

It is believed that the driver's car skidded on snow onto the Hagg Lane crossing near South Duffield, North Yorkshire. The driver of the Hull to Manchester train had seen the car obstruct the crossing and applied the emergency brake. The car driver was able to exit the car before the low-speed collision occurred. No injuries were reported and the train did not derail.

Photo (c) Paul Glazzard at Geograph

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Level Crossing News in 2010

Technology gremlins and ill health conspired against regular updates to the site in late 2009. Both are sorted for 2010; we're playing catchup with some important reports from last year, they'll fill in throughout January.

Once we're up to date, you can expect a monthly update of information collated from local and national news channels as well as out correspondents and official RSSB /RAIB reports.

We're hoping that in 2010 we'll have more time to report on legislation and technology. We're also hoping that they'll be fewer incidents, fatal or otherwise, to report on.

Here's to a safe 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

INCIDENT: Chawston FC, 29/12/09

A man was seriously injured after being hit on a footpath crossing in Worcestershire.

It is understood that the man was crossing the line with a friend at Chawson, Droitwich Spa, when he was struck by a Hereford to Birmingham New Street passenger service. He suffered multiple injuries and was airlifted to Selly Oak Hospital for further treatment. No injuries were reported on the train.

In 1999, former local councillor John Cook campaigned for safety improvements at the crossing. Bolted gates were introduced, although Mr Cook claims the bolts were subsequently stolen.

The RAIB are carrying out an investigation.

Photo (c) John Anyon at Worcester News

Friday, December 11, 2009

INCIDENT: Tunstead AHB, Norfolk 10/12/09

A man was seriously injured when his car was struck by a train on an automatic half-barrier crossing in Norfolk.

Robert Trotter was impaled through the legs by a wooden fence following the collision between his vehicle and the 0854 North Walsham to Norwich service. No injuries were reported on the train, which did not derail.

BBC Look East report: (Youtube)

Photo (c) North Norfolk News

Friday, December 04, 2009

ORR update 04/12/09

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has outlined a series of initiatives aimed at reducing the risks of accidents at level crossings.

These include:

- supporting the update of level crossing legislation
- lobbying for an increase to suggested penalties for level crossing misuse by motorists;
- publication of revised guidance on level crossings
- inspection of all 128 automatic open level crossings (AOCLs) during 2010 to ensure that risks are properly managed

Bill Emery, ORR chief executive said that safety was their priority. "We are committed to making our regulation of the railways focused and effective," said Mr Emery, "supporting industry with advice and guidance, and enforcing where appropriate".

Thursday, December 03, 2009


The driver of a refuse lorry struck by a train on a Scottish automatic open crossing has received a driving ban and a fine.

John Smith, of Brora, admitted driving without due care and attention at the Dalchalm crossing in August 2009 (report here). He received a four-month ban and was fined £400.

Monday, November 23, 2009

INCIDENT: Goodens UWC, Cambridgeshire 23/11/09

A train struck a tractor on a user-worked crossing between Waterbeach and Chesterton Junction.

The tractor driver had driven onto the crossing, but was unable to reverse off in time. The passenger train caught the tractor with a glancing blow. No injuries were reported to either the tractor driver not the train crew/passengers. The train did not derail.

Friday, October 30, 2009

INCIDENT: Cornton AHB 26/10/09

A bus collided with a barrier at an automatic half-barrier crossing in Stirlingshire.

The First Bus service 54 to Bridge of Allan was on the crossing but clear of the rails when it was struck by a descending barrier. No injuries were reported on the bus. Witnesses said that the bus was able to reverse away from underneath the barrier.

Network Rail reported that both the warning lights and barriers were working properly and claimed that the bus failed to stop at the lights.

British Transport Police say that a 61-year-old man will be the subject of a report to the local procurator fiscal in connection with a number of alleged road traffic act offences.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Police supervision is to be increased at an abused crossing under threat of closure.

Following a review of CCTV evidence at Wareham crossing in Dorset, the Office of Rail Regulation has urged Network Rail and the county council to take immediate action to reduce the high risk of fatality.

Dorset County Council, along with British Transport Police and Network Rail, has agreed to increase police supervision of the crossing to make sure people use it properly.

The Office of Rail Regulation commented that if any further abuse takes place it will use its powers to require immediate closure of the crossing.

Photo (c) Peter Elsdon at Geograph

INCIDENT: Halkirk AOCL, Caithness 29.09.09

Three people died when their vehicle was struck by a passenger train on an automatic open crossing in Caithness.

Angus MacKay (81), his wife Margaret MacKay (81) and his brother Donald MacKay (66) died when their car was hit on the Halkirk Bridge Street crossing by the 1038 service from Inverness to Wick. No casualties were reported on the train, which did not derail.

A Network Rail spokesman said that an initial investigation showed there was "nothing to suggest that the crossing was not functioning correctly at the time of the collision". The Rail Accident Investigation Board is carrying out an investigation into the incident.

Comment; With AOCLs accounting for only 2% of Network Rail’s crossings, but 31% of all road-rail collisions in the last ten years - including several multiple fatalities - the feasibility of such crossings maintaining their maximum line speed of 55mph ought to be called into question.

BBC News:

Photo (c) John Baikie, as reproduced on the BBC website

Monday, September 14, 2009

PROSECUTION: Watlington, Norfolk

A cyclist has been fined after being caught jumping a lowered barrier on a railway crossing at Watlington.

Officers saw the 22-year-old man, who has not been named, scale the barrier just before a train was due to pass.

The man was issued a £50 fine.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

NOT GUILTY: Bathampton

A driver accused of causing a collision after driving onto a user-worked crossing has been found not guilty.

Bristol Crown Court received information regarding previous operational problems with the crossing at Bathampton. Alan Saunders, 73, was found not guilty of obstructing an engine or carriage using a railway following the incident last year

There have been claims that the white warning light cannot be seen clearly if the sun is shining in a certain position. Network Rail is now planning to close the crossing.

Monday, September 07, 2009


A delivery driver who lost control of his vehicle after zig-zagging around barriers at a Lincoln crossing has been found guilty of dangerous driving.

Andrew Otter swerved around the barriers at the Skellingthorpe crossing near Lincoln in July last year. After striking a car at the crossing, Otter mounted the pavement before driving away. He was given a six-month jail sentence suspended for two years and 150 hours unpaid work, banned from driving for 12 months and ordered to take his test again.

INCIDENT: Foxcovert Road FP, Cambridgeshire 07.09.09

A two year old child was killed after he was struck by a passenger train on a footpath crossing in Cambridgeshire.

Reports suggest that the child opened the swing gate to the crossing in Werrington and ran onto the track. He was then hit by a Lincoln to Peterborough passenger train and died instantly.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "Recent inspections of the crossing found it to be in good order with good sight lines, spring-loaded gates, clear safety signage and far higher levels of safety than any road crossing with fencing. The crossing met all our safety regulator's requirements for such a crossing."

Local councillors have campaigned in recent years to have the crossing's protection upgraded.

Peterborough Today:

Photo (c) Southern Daily Echo

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

INCIDENT: Penrhyndeudraeth UWC+T, Gwynedd 02.09.09

A woman died when her vehicle was struck by a locomotive on a user worked crossing in Gwynedd.

Sally Hudson drove onto the Penrhyndeudraeth crossing near her home and was struck by a Class 37 test locomotive on a training run from Machynlleth to Porthmadog. Mrs Hudson died at the scene. None of the loco crew were injured.

It is not known at this time whether Mrs Hudson used the telephone at the crossing to request permission to cross.

Photo (c) Rob Formstone

Friday, August 21, 2009

ABUSE: Langley Green MCB

Langley Green in the West Midlands is one of the most abused level crossings in the UK, by both motorists and pedestrians. Not surprisingly, it was chosen by the BBC in August as a location for a live news report about railway crime and trespass.

Also not surprisingly, the camera crew caught a pedestrian dodging the barriers as the crossing was closing, as the above still shows.

More photos and details can be found on the Daily Mail website.

Photo (c) BBC

Thursday, August 13, 2009

INCIDENT: Bog Hall Farm UWC, Durham 13.08.09

A motorist was struck by a freight train on a user worked crossing in County Durham.

The unnamed woman was reported to have edged her Mazda out onto the crossing, at Bog Hall near Stillington, to get a clearer view of the track. The vehicle was struck by a Fiddlers Ferry - Middlesbrough freight train operated by Great British Rail Freight. No injuries were reported and the train did not derail.

Comment - this photo was taken in 2006; reports suggest that the crossing is currently gated.

Photo (c) Hugh Mortimer at

Saturday, August 08, 2009

INCIDENT: Cults Mill UWC, Springfield, Fife 08.08.09

A teenager was killed after being struck by a train on a crossing in Fife, Scotland.

Natalie Mulholland, 16, was hit by a First ScotRail service from Edinburgh to Dundee around 11.30pm. The user-worked crossing is on a private access road to a farm near the village of Springfield. Reports suggest that a group of youths were making their way back to the village over the crossing when the incident occurred.

Photo (c)

Friday, August 07, 2009

INCIDENT: Dalchalm AOCL, Sutherland 07.08.09

A refuse lorry and a passenger train collided at an automatic open crossing on Scotland's most incident-prone line.

The rear of a Highland Council refuse lorry was clipped by the 1038 Inverness-Wick passenger train on the Dalchalm crossing near Brora. No injuries were reported and the train did not derail.

Several of the eleven automatic open crossings on the Inverness-Wick line have been the scene of incidents in recent years, including a multiple fatality at Delny in 2007.

Photo (c) The Northern Times

Sunday, June 28, 2009

INCIDENT: Fairbourne AOCL, Gwynedd 14.05.09 and 27.06.09

Two collisions in six weeks occurred at an automatic open crossing next to a station in Wales.

In the first incident on 14th May, a motorist said she was "distracted", ignoring the red light at the Fairbourne crossing and striking a Machynlleth to Pwllheli passenger service. No injuries resulted and the train did not derail. The motorist, Eileen Lawrence, 72, later admitted careless driving and was fined £40 with three penalty points, with £80 costs and £15 victim surcharge.

Weeks later in June, another motorist was involved in a collision at the crossing which resulted in her vehicle being pushed onto the station platform. She was airlifted to hospital; no injuries were reported on the train which did not derail. The driver of the Machynlleth to Pwllheli service was also involved in the May incident.

A similar incident at the crossing occurred in 2003. The formal inquiry into that incident recommended that the crossing be upgraded to automatic half-barrier; residents of Fairbourne continue to campaign for such work to be carried out.

Photo (c) SMJ on

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

INCIDENT: Fairfield UWC+MWL, Wiltshire 06.05.09

A woman and her dog were killed after being struck on a footpath crossing in Wiltshire.

Julia Canning was struck on the Fairfield foot crossing near Little Bedwyn by the 1708 hrs First Great Western service from Newbury to Bedwyn.

It was reported that she had lost control of her dogs and was trying to retrieve them from the line.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has launched an investigation.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Network Rail has installed CCTV and additional signage at a crossing which has seen three near misses in a week. Train drivers have had to carry out emergency stops to avoid collisions on the Tide Mills user worked crossing near Newhaven, East Sussex.

Photo (c) Kevin Gordon at Geograph


Pedestrians and motorists continue to abuse the manual barrier crossing in Paignton, Devon.

Identified as one of the most abused crossings in the south west region, officials from Network Rail and British Transport Police ran an awareness session at Paignton in April - and witnessed six pedestrians running across after the lights and klaxons had triggered.

Between twenty and twenty five incidents of abuse are recorded at Paignton crossing every year. In February a woman driver was fined £190 and given three penalty points after pleading guilty to failing to stop at the red light there. Magistrates heard that local resident Margaret Powell was spotted slowing down as she approached the crossing then accelerating across the crossing.