Sunday, November 30, 2008

FAILURE: Garve AOCL, Ross-shire 29/11/08

The failure of a notorious Scottish automatic opening crossing has be attributed to a power cut.

A track circuit problem at the crossing in Garve, Ross-shire, led to the lights and sirens failing to activate as a passenger train approached Garve station. Network Rail reported that the driver's white warning light, which indicates AOC failure to train crew, worked correctly and the service was able to stop well before the crossing. The driver was able to use the trackside manual control to initiate the crossing closure system and continue into Garve station.

Garve was ranked by the Rail Safety and Standards Board as the most misused automatic open crossing in the UK in the period 1998-2005.

Photo (c) Frederik Ramm from On the Road in North-West Scotland

Friday, November 28, 2008

INQUEST: Haltwhistle 2008

A jury returned a verdict of accidental death at the inquest of a teenager killed after being hit by a train on Haltwhisltle user crossing in January this year.

Christopher David Walton Walton had been helping to deliver coal at night to an adjacent property and was standing on the unlit crossing. It was claimed that the traffic noise and headlights of vehicles on the nearby A69 may have made it difficult for Mr Walton to know that a train was approaching.

Rail inspector John Tilley said the crossing had been "sub-standard" for a number of years and that it ought to be closed, a sentiment echoed by Mr Walton's parents.

Network Rail stated that they are in discussion with the landowner with respect to the crossing and that closure is NRs preferred option.

Hexham Courant:

Journal Live:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

UPDATE: Smiths Lower Farm, Welshpool

A father and son from Shropshire have appeared in court following a crash on a level crossing near Welshpool involving a lorry and a train carrying more than 100 passengers.

Arthur Roberts, 45, and 15-year-old Leon Roberts, both of Cherry Tree Drive, St Martins, appeared at Welshpool Magistrates Court yesterday.

They both denied a charge that by an unlawful act, or wilfully, they failed to comply with level crossing regulations, endangering the safety of people being conveyed on the railway at Buttington on September 10.

The case was adjourned for trial in January and the pair were released on bail.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

INCIDENT: Bathampton UWC+MWL, Somerset 12.11.2008

A van driver escaped injury when his vehicle was in collision with a passenger train on a user-worked crossing in Somerset.

Alan Saunders had driven onto the crossing at Bathampton, claiming that the warning light at the crossing signalled that it was safe for him to do so. Having opened the gate on the opposite side of the crossing, he returned to his vehicle which was then struck on the bonnet by the South West Trains 0850 Bristol Temple Meads to Salisbury service. He was unhurt as were all those on the train, which did not derail.

Mr Saunders was arrested soon after the incident on suspicion of dangerous driving. He was later released on police bail.

The owner of Bathampton Home Farm, Matt McKillop, whose farm entrance is by the crossing, said he had raised concerns about the light signal in the past. He said: “The light is very unclear on the crossing and when the sun is shining you can’t see whether it is on or off. There should be two lights at the crossing and all we want is a red and a green one instead of one that's white".

BBC News:
This Is Wiltshire:
This Is Bath:

Photo (C)

Comment: Does anyone have examples of how a single white warning light operates? It's not something that I'm familiar with.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

INCIDENT: Wraysholme AOC, Cumbria 03.11.08

A car driver died when his vehicle was struck by a train on an automatic open crossing in Cumbria.

John Crabtree, 41, of Ulverston, was pronounced dead at the scene following the collision between his red Mitsubishi Carisma and the 0937 Carlisle to Lancaster two-coach Northern Rail train. None of the train crew or the 32 passengers on the train were injured. The train was not derailed.

A British Transport Police spokesman said that witnesses reported seeing Mr Crabtree drive onto the crossing as the warning lights were flashing.

Stuart Wilson of Wyke Farm, adjacent to the crossing, believes barriers are needed at the site. He claims that low sunlight makes the warning lights difficult to see.

It is the second vehicle collision at the crossing this year (see archived story for more details). Keith Lumley, spokesman for Network Rail, said that a risk assessment of the crossing following the collision in February deemed the level of equipment to be adequate. “Now we have had a second incident," said Mr Lumley, "we will revisit the risk assessment and look to see if anything can be done.”

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has launched an investigation.

BBC News:
Westmoreland Gazzette:
North West Evening Mail:
Grange Local:

Comment: Would the crossing benefit from half-barrier installation? Does a fatality following on from an earlier collision now alter the risk assessment? Or is this just a salutary reminder of the possible consequences of crossing misuse? I haven't seen any photos or detailed maps of the area, so it's difficult to comment on the suitability of Wraysholme's AOC status. But it's interesting to note that the Office of Rail Regulation have issued an improvement notice on NR for the crossing, stating that "all suitable steps have not been taken" to ensure that crossing users are "not exposed to risks".

And, a note to the BBC and some local papers who reported that the crossing had barriers- why not search your own archives first for corroboration?

CAMPAIGN: Don't Run The Risk

Network Rail have issued a number of statistics related to level crossing incidents in support of their "Don't Run The Risk" campaign.

Between January and September 2008, there have been 2636 reported incidents of crossing misuse. 14% of these incidents resulted in a near miss.

The clear majority of misuse (66%) involved pedestrians. Twelve people have been killed on level crossings this year. On average three vehicles were involved in a near miss every week There have also been thirteen collisions between a road vehicle and a train.

Network Rail make it clear that level crossings are safe if used correctly and that UK fatality rate for level crossing incidents is amongst the lowest in Europe.

Network Rail:

Monday, November 03, 2008

CAMPAIGN: Don't Run The Risk TV Advert

As part of Network Rail's ongoing level crossing safety campaign, Don't Run The Risk, a new television advert has been launched.

Perhaps in response to fatalities this year, the advert shows that pedestrians (including dog-walkers and children) as well as car drivers are at risk from level crossing abuse/misuse.

The advert can be viewed via the BBC iplayer here or downloaded (26.9MB) from the Network Rail Media Library here.