Wednesday, May 31, 2006

MISUSE: Scotland

The ongoing Network Rail campaign has identified the top three misused crossings in Scotland.

No surprises here; Cornton, Kirknewton and Carnoustie all have long records of misuse and near misses by both vehicles and pedestrians.
Carnoustie Manual Controlled Barrier crossing in particular often hits the headlines - it was the most misused protected-barrier crossing in Scotland between 1998 and 2005 (source: RSSB Level Crossing Safety Performance report June 2006)

Carnoustie Community Council reports that the crosssing is now covered by CCTV and all offending motorists are reported to the Procurator Fiscal. Councillor Peter Murphy is appalled that Carnoustie should find itself in this position "due to what is fundamentally bad driving"

Courier news report:
Near misses in 2004:
Near misses in 2005:

Misuse at Cornton crossing increased through 2005 despite the presence of a CCTV camera to spot drivers running the red light:
BBC News:

Kirknewton AHB was one of the first crossings in the UK to have 'red light' cameras installed after a long history of misuse. It was the scene of a fatal incident involving a vehicle in 2004 and a serious incident in 2005 involving a pedestrian.

Edinburgh Evening News:
First LC CCTV policing cameras installed in Scotland
2004 incident, BBC News:
2005 incident: Edinburgh Evening News:
BBC News:

Carnoustie, Courier
Cornton, BBC News
Kirknewton, Evening News

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Continuing the regional focus of Network Rail's current campaign, Carnaby AHB in East Yorkshire is identified as another heavily misused crossing.

Between April 2005-2006 over three hundred drivers were prosecuted for running the red light at the crossing.

A history of misuse at the crossing led to the installation of CCTV 'red light' cameras. The speed limit on the approach to the crossing was also lowered from 60mph to 40mph.

BBC News:

Bridlington Today:

BBC News August 05:

Photograph: BBC News

Comment - Over three hundred prosecutions for running the red light suggests to me that more needs to be done here. Lowering the speed limit may have had some impact, but as the Bridlington News article shows, that's not enough. The motorcyclist quoted says he was doing 39mph and couldn't stop for the lights.... perhaps he should have slowed on seeing the warning signs and allow himself the chance to react? After all, 40mph is a maximum limit, not a recommended speed.

Would full barriers help? I don't know how much of the abuse/misuse is zigzagging - it seems like its a case of speeding up to get over or still driving too fast to react in time. The crossing is near an industrial estate - are HGVs driving at a speed within the law but too fast to stop in time?

There's been suggestions that the time before the red lights show should be increased. Sounds like an attempt to buy even more time to make the crossing on amber.

Perhaps lowering the speed further would help - 20mph? Rumble strips? Difficult to say what would be effective as I don't know the layout of the area.

One thing is for certain. Fining 300+ drivers a year isn't reducing the risk.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

CAMPAIGN: Downham Station crossing abuse

Following a number of near misses, CCTV and British Transport Police patrols were introduced at Downham Market station to reduce the misuse of the station crossing.

Passengers can use a board crossing between platforms, protected by Minature Warning Lights (MWL). In January 2006, four people were spotted using the crossing against the lights in front of moving trains. Services can pass through Downham station at 75mph.

Given the recent double fatality at Elsenham (also a MWL passenger crossing) a campaign of education and enforcement was launched.

This seems to have been a success as only one subsequent dangerous occurence was recorded up to May 2006.

The Fen Line Users Association have called for lockable wicker gates to be used on the crossing or the installation of a footbridge/subway.

Lynn News:

Fen Line Users Association :

Thursday, May 25, 2006

MISUSE: Winchelsea AOCL 25/05/06

Network Rail continue with their current programme of 'naming and shaming'; Winchelsea AOCL has been identified as one of the most misused crossings in the south of England.

In 2003 a train struck a Land Rover on the crossing. Other AOCLs in the south also have histories of misuse, near miss and collisions.

Rye & Battle Today

2003 incident:

BBC News

The Argus

Photo by kind permission of

INCIDENT: Highams Park MCB CCTV 22/05/06

Two women were struck by the descending barrier at the CCTV controlled crossing. They fell trackside and were rescued by two schoolboys who lifted the barriers pulled up and pulled the women clear.

This crossing has a history of incidents where barriers have struck pedestrians, resulting in near misses trackside. Locals claim that the time between warning light activation and barrier descent is inadequate. Network Rail have previously claimed that incidents of this nature are due to crossing misuse.

Recent incident:

Previous incidents:

Photo by kind permission of Peter Marshall:

INCIDENT: Long Lane UWC 19/05/06

A Liverpool-Middlesborough train struck a pedestrian on a user worked crossing near Brompton, North Yorkshire.

Margaret Hebdon, who lived close to the crossing at Kettleswell Farm, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Northern Echo:

Monday, May 22, 2006

INCIDENT: Knodishall UWC 22/05/06

A Direct Rail Services freight train, carrying an empty nuclear waste flask struck a car on Batt's Black House Crossing No 1 user worked crossing on Clay Mills Road near Knodishall, Suffolk.

The car suffered minor damage. The train and flask were undamaged and continued its journey. There were no casualties.

The RAIB have launched an investigation.

BBC News:

East Anglian Daily Times :

Saturday, May 20, 2006

MISUSE: Thorne Moorends AHB

Another regional angle on the current Network Rail campaign.

The AHB crossing at Thorne Moorends, near Doncaster, has been identified by Network Rail as 6th in the top ten most abused crossings in Yorkshire.

British Transport Police report they have 'surveillance evidence' of motorists zig-zagging around the closed barriers.

Doncaster Star News:

Comment - Thanks to the person who let me know that this crossing is on Marshland Road and not Bloomhill Road as the Doncaster Star story suggests.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

CAMPAIGN: Network Rail "Don't Run The Risk"

Network Rail have launched a nationwide campaign to reduce misuse of level crossings.

The GDP 3 million campaign will use national and local advertising across a variety of media under the tagline 'Level Crossings - Don't Run The Risk'.

Television adverts have already been aired, showing the aftermath of a family car being struck by a train on an AHB crossing. The RSSB recently claimed that misuse by vehicles represents the largest single risk of train accident on the railway.

Elements of the campaign, running from May to September, include;

- televison, radio, cinema and on-line adverts
- national and local press adverts
- direct marketing to the 6000+ property owners with crossings on their land
- leaflet drops to households wihtin a four-mile radius of the top 100 crossing 'blackspots'

Network Rail: