Suffolk Coastal MP Thérèse Coffey has reiterated the importance of using level crossings safely, after a teenage girl was nearly hit by a train at Halesworth.
Dr Coffey’s message followed a visit to the level crossing, which was the scene of a near miss on Saturday 20 January this year. A driver was forced to apply the emergency break to avoid potentially hitting a teenage girl who had started to use the crossing, as the train was accelerating from the station.
The crossing at Halesworth, which is served by trains on the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft, is rated by Network Rail as one of the most high risk station crossings in the country, following repeated reports of misuse in recent years.
At the visit on Friday 26 January, Dr Coffey was joined by Network Rail’s route level crossing manager Dan Fisk, in which they discussed the recent incident and spoke to residents about the need to use the crossing safely.
In order to encourage safe use of the crossing, fencing and gates were installed last year at the end of the station platforms. These act as a barrier between pedestrians and the railway, and provide a timely reminder to people to stop, look and listen for trains before they cross. A sign attached to the gates provides advice about how to use the crossing safely:
Cross only if there are no trains in either platform and check no trains are approaching.
Get off your bike before crossing and stick to the crossing and off the track.
Always keep moving. Don’t stop on the crossing.
Dan Fisk, Network Rail’s route level crossing manager for Anglia, said: “Our main priority at Halesworth is the safety of people using the crossing and it was useful to discuss with Dr Coffey the repeated misuse and how to reduce this risk. We will continue to raise awareness of the need to use the crossing safely – which means not crossing while a train is in the platform, and this recent incident is a prime example of why it is so important not to cross when a train is within sight. If the current issues continue, we will have to carefully consider the crossing’s future.”
Thérèse said: “I know how much people in Halesworth value the crossing at the station, which is why I campaigned to keep it open. However, I recognise that Network Rail needs to ensure public safety so I was concerned to hear of the recent near miss. I still think clearer signage will help and Network Rail will be stepping up their efforts to encourage people to use the crossing safely. I strongly encourage people to take this advice, so that people who currently use the crossing safely can continue to do so.”