Network Rail is urging cyclists and pedestrians to use level crossings safely, after shocking CCTV footage shows people recklessly misusing a crossing in East Yorkshire.
The newly released CCTV footage was captured at Mingledale level crossing near Harpham, where trains travel on the busy line between Driffield and Bridlington at speeds of up to 70mph.
It shows incredibly dangerous behaviour, ranging from irresponsible photo opportunities on the tracks, to an individual carelessly leaving their bike on the middle of the track to help a friend open the gate. Each incident could have resulted in fatal or life changing consequences.
Trains cannot stop quickly or swerve out of the way, so it is vital that anyone using a level crossing follows the guidance and crosses quickly, without stopping, to avoid any horrific incidents or delays to train services.
In 2019/20, 316 near-misses involving pedestrians or cyclists were recorded at level crossings in Britain; an increase of 4.6% on the previous year. There was also a near-miss at Harpham level crossing in May.
The Department for Transport recently reported that during lockdown, cycling in England had risen by up to 300% on some days.* This, combined with the usual spike in outdoor exercise during the summer months, makes it even more important for people to be aware of how to use level crossings safely.
- Concentrate – it’s easy to get distracted, especially by phones, music and conversation.
- Stop, look and listen. Follow signs and instructions.
- Check both ways before crossing – if there is a train coming, don’t cross.
- Understand the warnings (lights, barriers, alarms).
- Cross quickly, keeping children close and dogs on a lead.
In 2018, Network Rail produced seven virtual reality (VR) films to give people a seemingly real experience of how dangerous level crossings can be when they are not used correctly. The short, 3D episodes, which include trains passing at 120mph, can be found on YouTube and used by anyone with VR equipment.**
Vicki Beadle, Operations Risk Advisor for Network Rail, said: “The behaviour we have seen at Mingledale and Harpham level crossings is deeply concerning and shows that people are completely oblivious to the dangers they are putting themselves and their friends in.
“More people are exercising outdoors during the summer, and may be taking new, unfamiliar routes, but the railway is not a photo opportunity and it is never safe to stop or hang around on the tracks.
“It is crucial that people take extra care to cross quickly and directly, once they’ve checked it is safe.”