Network Rail is teaming up with the National Farmers’ Union to remind farmers to stay safe at level crossings and combat a rise in incidents during harvest, one of their busiest times of the year.
New figures reveal incidents at level crossings rise during harvest season, as farmers rush to gather their crops before the good weather runs out. Last harvest season saw the most level crossing incidents in four years and almost 300 more incidents than the previous year¹.
Of the incidents recorded, four of the top seven issues identified at level crossings involved private user worked crossings, often used by the farming community².
While Britain still has the safest rail network in Europe, level crossings are one of the biggest public safety risks on the railway. The new S.A.F.E.R campaign, launched this September, will help to reinforce the safety critical rules around using private level crossings. Farmers will be provided with tools and resources that will enable them to have conversations with their families and workers to help them safely navigate their level crossings during the harvest season.
The S.A.F.E.R campaign reminds farmers to;
Speak – If there is a phone, speak to the signaller before and after you cross
Access – Open both gates before crossing and always close them after you
Follow – Check and follow the signs and signals every time you cross
Everyone – Check everyone knows these instructions to get across safely, every time
Responsibility – It’s your legal responsibility to ensure your workers and family comply
We do see a rise in the level of incidents involving farmers at user worked level crossings during the harvest season and we hope by working closely with the National Farmers’ Union we can help to keep farmers safe.
By following a few simple rules people can learn how to cross level crossings safely and with confidence. We hope this will help to prevent last year’s increase in incidents at farm level crossings from becoming a trend. As well as the obvious safety risks for the farmer and people on the train, there can be prosecutions.
The British Transport Police arrested and secured the conviction of one farmworker who was jailed for 10 months after a collision with a train in 2016 when he didn’t follow the instructions at a farm crossing.
Allan Spence, head of public and passenger safety, Network Rail
To help combat the increase in incidents at user worked level crossings we’re embracing new technologies to reach the farming community and make them more aware of the dangers during the harvest season. A virtual reality film features farmers highlighting dangers they could face at level crossings if they don’t follow the simple instructions.
For farmers crossings are a crucial way to access their land. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work alongside Network Rail to improve safety at level crossings.
We appreciate farmers are often under pressure during busy periods, but would urge them to be extra vigilant, ensuring that all safety procedures are followed strictly and all workers on their farms are well informed.
We recognise the importance of such a campaign and hope that our members will be better informed as a result.
Guy Smith, vice-president, National Farmers Union
Over 100 level crossing and community safety managers will be raising awareness of rail safety right across the rail network by holding safety events and encouraging users to stay alert while using crossings.