Search

Tougher action plea on rail crossings

PUBLISHED: 09:32 10 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:24 05 July 2010

RAIL bosses have called for the courts to impose tougher sentences on motorists who jump the barriers at level crossings, as new figures showed there were nearly 500 incidents on East Anglia's rail lines last year.

RAIL bosses have called for the courts to impose tougher sentences on motorists who jump the barriers at level crossings, as new figures showed there were nearly 500 incidents on East Anglia's rail lines last year.

One in five of the 479 occasions when drivers ignored warning lights or barriers led to a near-miss involving a train. Network Rail said the number of people dodging the barriers reached a five-year high, with 3,479 incidents, including 20 collisions and 15 deaths.

It said they caused delays to passengers totalling 55 days across the network, and cost it £1.8m, which it could have invested in improving services.

The company is calling on the courts to come down hard on those who jump the lights to act as a stronger deterrent.

There have also been incidents of pedestrians dashing through barriers and taking their lives into their own hands as trains approach.

In one of the most graphic incidents nationally, a train clipped a youth ripping his shoe off.

Those who trespass on the railways face up to a month's imprisonment, while those endangering safety can be jailed for up to 10 years. Those who cause death on the lines could be sentenced to up to 14 years.

Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher said: “The toughest consequence of breaking the law at a level crossing is to lose your life. Thankfully, that doesn't happen very often.

“Every week we see people who ignore warning signs and lights, or drive around barriers at level crossings just to save a few minutes.

“This behaviour has the potential for massive damage, disruption and death. We think the judicial penalties received need to reflect the seriousness of these crimes and are calling on the judiciary to consider all these factors when handing down sentences.”

There were no deaths on level crossings in East Anglia last year

In December, a 23-year-old driver who jumped barriers at Oulton Broad, was banned from driving for a year and ordered to do 260 hours unpaid work. A judge told him he would have been jailed had he not entered a guilty plea.

A hard-hitting TV commercial first screened last November, which shows the consequences of jumping crossing barriers, is set to be broadcast again this month.

Network Rail said it could not find any explanation for the rise in incidents, from 2,896 in 2007 to 3,479 last year.

“There are more trains on the network and more traffic on the roads, it's just a case of public behaviour having to change,” a spokesman said.

“As with any campaign like drink driving or wearing a seatbelt, it takes time to change people's behaviour.

“It's a case of getting the message across about the dangers to change people's behaviour.”

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Lowestoft Journal

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists