Friday, February 27, 2009

TECHNOLOGY: Obstacle detection

Trials of the UK's first level crossing obstacle detection system have begun at a crossing in North Yorkshire.

The radar-style system is being installed at the manually controlled barrier crossing outside Filey station. It will operate after the barriers have been closed to check that the crossing is clear before the protecting signals can be cleared.

A Network Rail spokeswoman said that Filey had been chosen as it met 'various technical criteria' rather than any history of crossing misuse.

Comment: An interesting development, albeit not as revolutionary as some may think. Obstacle detection for MCB crossings could be a precursor to fully automated manual crossings, but for the foreseeable future it can only be an adjunct to the current CCTV system. Some observers claim that the technology would have prevented the recent incident at West Knapton AHB, but that would only have been the case if it were linked into protecting signals.

See the RSSB research report into obstacle detection for a fuller explanation of the background and technology.

NEAR MISS: Cleghorn MCB CCTV, Lanarkshire 10.02.09

Reports suggest that a school bus avoided a collision with a passenger train at a Scottish barrier crossing. Cleghorn has been upgraded to a manually controlled full barrier crossing after sustained abuse by motorists. Allegations have been made that the crossing has not been functioning correctly.

No other details were available.

Lanark Gazette:

Photo (c) Raymond Okonski at Geograph

UPDATE: Hythe 2008

A majority not guilty verdict was returned in a manslaughter case arising from a woman's death on a level crossing in 2008.

Darren Palmer had been alleged to have dragged his partner, Kelly Mack, over the Hythe MCB crossing against her will. Miss Mack caught her boot in the crossing and was subsequently struck by a train.

Both had climbed over the closed barriers at the crossing near Colchester in an attempt to reach the opposite platform for a departing service. Mr Palmer said he thought that Miss Mack was following him, but instead she had become caught up in the rails. A witness tried to pull her to safety but told how she "curled up into a ball" before being hit by the train.

Mr Palmer later commented that crossing the track when the barrier was down was "the stupidest mistake of my life".

Friday, February 13, 2009


An investigation into alleged failures at a Scottish automatic open crossing has revealed a battery used to power train detection gear was losing power.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) met with Network Rail over concerns that the warning lights at the crossing at Bunchrew, Invernessshire, had failed on several occasions.

A spokesman for ORR said: "The immediate cause of the failures was exhaustion of the battery power supply to track circuits, with underlying causes relating to local factors at the crossing and possibly the particular batch of batteries.

"The track circuits are used for train detection and thereby initiate crossing operation."

He added: "Network Rail have reassessed the demand made on the supplies at Bunchrew and have increased the frequency at which the batteries are replaced and are taking other steps to ensure that the problem does not recur.

"ORR will continue to monitor performance at the crossing and we note that there have been no further failures from this cause since remedial action was taken."

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "We have worked closely with the ORR throughout their investigation at Bunchrew level crossing and will be incorporating their recommendations into our regular maintenance regime."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

INCIDENT: Attleborough MCG 11.02.09

A car collided with the gates at a manually controlled crossing in Norfolk.

British Transport Police said that the barriers were being closed when the Renault Clio approached the crossing and struck them.

An investigation into the cause of the incident is ongoing.

Photo (c) Ron Strutt on Geograph

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

INCIDENT: Moulinearn UWC MSL, Perthshire 08.02.09

A pedestrian was struck and killed on a user worked crossing at Moulinearn.

Frank Clifford, 94, was hit by the 0918 Inverness to Glasgow passenger service. The crossing, protected by minature stop lights, was the scene of a fatal collision between a car and a train in 2001.

BBC News:

Photo (c) BBC News

INCIDENT: West Knapton AHB, North Yorkshire 03.02.09

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

The driver claimed to have been dazzled by the sun as he approached West Knapton AHB. He clipped a barrier and collided with the rear carriage of the 10.22 Liverpool to Scarborough TransPennine Express service. No injuries were reported on the train which did not derail. The driver sustained minor injuries.

British Tramsport Police have launched an investigation.

The Rail Safety and Standards Board reported in their February 2009 Summary of Safety Performance that the "road vehicle driver attempted to zigzag around the barriers".

Scarborough Evening News:

Photo (c) The Press

Saturday, February 07, 2009

CAMPAIGN: Don't Run The Risk 2009

Network Rail have released video footage of level crossing misuse as part of the ongoing Don't Run The Risk campaign.

Fifteen deaths and twenty rail-vehicle collisons were reported in 2008. Netwrok Rail say that 95% of accidents at level crossings can be attributed to public misuse or error.

A short compilation on the BBC News website.

Full video clips can be downloaded from the National Rail Media Centre here.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

INCIDENT: Gwaun cae Gurwen AOC 02.02.09

A car was struck by a locomotive at a crossing on a recently reopened freight line.

Witnesses say that car skidded downhill onto the crossing in wintry conditions and was struck by a slow moving locomotive. No casualties were reported and the locomotive did not derail.

Police are considering prosecuting the driver for dangerous driving

County councillor Lynda Williams said the warning lights were insufficient and that gates or barriers ought to be installed.

Although trains have not run on the line for almost ten years, it was never formally closed. Frieght traffic began running again on January 12th this year. Network Rail carried out an awareness campaign in the area before the line became operational.