Network Rail’s crossing campaign

This month Network Rail launched a campaign to educate the public on the dangers of rail crossings and CAPT is supporting it. 

There are more than 6,000 level crossings in Britain, created wherever train tracks cut across roads or footpaths. Some are very basic, others have automatic barriers, warning lights and permanent staff.

Whatever the set-up, these crossings can be deadly if not treated with care, despite the millions spent annually to reduce risk. Last year there were nine fatalities on level crossings and 453 near misses.

Child deaths are very rare but young adults are more at risk, especially when they drive or cycle, and Network Rail has produced a safety fact sheet for parents to enable them to support its Rail Life campaign which targets young people aged 11-17. The fact sheet explains that there are approximately 6,500 level crossings in Britain and in the past five years 44 people have died at these crossings. 

The Rail Life website includes powerful videos of people affected by deaths on the railways, including young people, talking about what happened.

The leaflet for parents explains how to stay safe on the main types of crossings: barriers; half-barriers; open crossings and footpath crossings. Network Rail points out that the average inter-city train weighs the equivalent of 80 elephants and its stopping distance is the length of 20 Premier League football pitches.

Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, is also supporting this campaign because over 14,000 miles of the National Cycle Network includes hundreds of level crossings. Since April 2010 there have been five deaths of people riding bikes on British level crossings and 139 near misses.

The charity points out that traffic lights mean different things at level crossings. For example, you must always stop at an amber light on a level crossing, unlike other road crossings where it can mean ‘proceed with caution’? It also notes that these crossings have become more dangerous as trains have become faster and quieter:

"Today’s high-speed trains appear swiftly and with little warning. It’s never been more important to take care around them." Sustrans

More information

Updated July 2015