Saturday, July 14, 2007

INCIDENT: Chapel AOCL near Newquay, June 12th 2007

A car and a train collided at the Chapel automatic open crossing near Newquay.

The 38-year old Peugeot driver was airlifted to hospital with head injuries after his car was struck and carried 50m down the line by a two-car unit on the Par-Newquay line.

No injuries were reported on the train, which did not derail.

Initial indications suggest that the crossing's lights and klaxons were working.

However, a local resident alleges that the lights were difficult to see on a sunny day, that the klaxons cannot always be heard inside a vehicle and that there are no warning signs on the approach to the crossing.

Reports have suggested that the driver - who may have not known the area - was using a sat-nav on the journey.

This is the third incident at the crossing in four years. The open crossings on the Par-Newquay line have a long history of accidents and abuse.

Photo (c) Western Morning News

BBC News:
Western Morning News: article 1 article 2 article 3 article 4

Comment: It seems that incidents at open crossings provoke the same reactions - the local paper called for barriers at all crossings, locals have suggested that lights and klaxons are insufficient warning. And now we have another increasingly popular reaction - the driver wasn't local, was using sat-nav and didn't realise there was a crossing.

The allegation that warning signs are absent on approach to the crossing is a serious one - if anyone with knowledge of Chapel crossing could let us know more, we'd be grateful (photos would be good).

Regarding klaxons - are these perhaps not aimed more at non-vehicular crossing users?

The issue of lights being difficult to see in bright sunlight is one that has to be treated with the utmost seriousness at open crossings. Again, it would be interesting to know if this crossing has hoods on the lights to improve visibility.

Whilst the local paper is eager to insist on barriers, a local MP was more pragmatic - he knows that the cost of upgrading every open crossing on the line would be significant and could lessen the financial viability of the line.

As for sat-nav and not being local - I'd have thought using unfamiliar roads would have made drivers more aware of their surroundings, not less.

Why not make open crossings particularly conspicuous? Rather than rely on road-side signage, why not add a splash of colour to make the crossing stand out?
Apologies to for mutilating one their photos (and one day I must learn how to use Photoshop) but you (hopefully) get the idea.

Cheaper than adding barriers, too.


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