St Albans residents are being urged to stay safe near the railway after two people in two weeks narrowly avoided death or serious injury on the same level crossing.
The incidents occurred on Cotton Mill Lane footpath level crossing, between St Albans Abbey and Park Street stations, on 25 January and 5 February – prompting Network Rail to undertake a week of safety and awareness raising at the crossing.
The near misses follow two previous covert surveys which recorded 787 separate incidents of deliberate misuse and accidental user behaviour between 25 July and 2 August 2015 and 1 July to 9 July 2017.
Incidents included young children playing on the crossing and adults not paying attention when using it by wearing headphones, looking at their mobile phones or crossing with dogs not on leads.
In light of the findings, Network Rail is undertaking a week of action at the crossing (26 February – 2 March) to speak with users and remind them of the importance of level crossing safety.
Priti Patel, head of safety for Network Rail’s London North Western route, said: “The two recent near misses between people and trains, combined with the worrying high number of incidents of deliberate misuse and accidental user behaviour, has prompted us to take action to remind people of the need to always use crossings correctly.
“We want to remind everyone of the significant risk to people’s lives if they don’t. Our advice is simple: never take a chance on a level crossing and always use it correctly.”
Following previous incidents at the crossing, Network Rail has installed lighting, clear markings, new signs and a yellow walkway across the railway and removed vegetation to improve visibility to help people use the crossing correctly.
The busy Cotton Mill Lane crossing is close to schools, a supermarket, a leisure centre and a retail park, and is used by around 800 pedestrians and 200 cyclists every day.