Network Rail and the British Transport Police have issued a warning to motorists after a reckless driver who crashed through a level-crossing barrier was handed an 18-month driving ban, ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £1000 in compensation.
Emanuel Goagara risked lives, caused more than 10 hours of delays across the rail network and cost taxpayers more than £60,000 after he drove his van through a level crossing in Sunningdale, Berkshire.
The van is seen approaching the crossing and increasing in speed, despite the warning lights being active for more than 10 seconds and the barrier nearly fully-lowered.
The vehicle can then be seen ripping off the lowered barrier as it careers across the track shortly before a train passes in July last year.
Network Rail and the British Transport Police have today condemned the actions of the driver and issued a further warning to motorists about the risk of misusing level crossings.
Mark O’Flynn, level crossing manager for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said:
“It is only through sheer luck this driver’s reckless actions did not cause serious injury, or worse. Not only did he put himself in danger, but passengers and railway staff were also put in harm’s way.
“People often underestimate the danger at crossings and how quickly trains are travelling, and when you don’t follow the rules, it’s not just your life you’re putting at risk. Saving a couple of minutes off your journey is simply not worth it.
“We’re investing more than £100 million to improve level crossing safety across Britain, but we need motorists, as well as pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, to be responsible and alert at all times when using crossings.”
Investigating officer, PC Joel Freeman-White from British Transport Police, said:
“Level crossings are there for a reason and by ignoring the barrier and warning signs and continuing to drive over the railway track, Goagara put himself and others in danger, risking his life and that of the train driver and passengers.
“I’m pleased that he has been convicted of this criminal offence and hope that his case will be a warning to other motorists or pedestrians who might be tempted to misuse level crossings.
“Trains travel at high speeds and it is vital that drivers and pedestrians follow the warning signs at level crossings to avoid injury or even death.
“We don’t want to be knocking on doors to tell someone their loved one has been injured or killed as a result of misusing a level crossing.”