Drivers ‘dicing with death’ on A12 crossing

Darsham Level Crossing. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Darsham Level Crossing. Picture: NETWORK RAIL - Credit: Archant

Scores of motorists are facing fines, points on their licences, or the prospect of special training after 'dicing with death' on railway level crossings in Suffolk.

Westerfield Level Crossing. Picture; NETWORK RAIL

Westerfield Level Crossing. Picture; NETWORK RAIL - Credit: Archant

They have been caught jumping the lights at level crossings on the A12 at Darsham and on the B1077 at Westerfield. But the numbers of drivers dodging trains has fallen significantly since new CCTV cameras were introduced earlier this year.

In the four weeks before the cameras were installed at Darsham, 167 vehicles jumped the red lights – some of them swerving around the barriers across the road.

During the four weeks after the cameras were switched on the number fell to 75, a 55 per cent drop. A total of 33 trains are scheduled to use the line every day, all of them stop at the station next to the crossing. But there are occasional engineering or special trains on the line – and they can travel at up to 55mph across the road.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: 'Anyone hit by one of those trains would have little chance. You are dicing with death if you ignore level crossing signals.'

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Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail's route managing director for Anglia, said: 'We have installed these cameras to deter dangerous behaviour and it is encouraging to see that they have made such a difference.

'Jumping the red lights or swerving around the barriers is incredibly reckless and puts the driver at risk of serious injury or death. Incidents like this can also damage the crossing and cause delays to train services.'

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Most offenders are given the option to pay a fine and receive points on their driving license, or to pay a fee and sit a safety awareness course. More serious offences such as swerving face a full prosecution.

At Westerfield the number of vehicles ignoring the lights fell from 69 to just five during the four weeks before and after the cameras were installed – large freight trains to and from Felixstowe routinely travel across that crossing at 40mph.

Geoffrey Reade runs the Darsham Emporium next to the station. He said there had been an incident with a car 'caught' on the crossing after trying to jump the lights.

He said: 'Most of the trains across the road are either coming to a stop at the station or just starting from the station so they are going slowly.'

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