Network Rail has now reached its target of closing 10% of Britain’s crossings – 750 in total – by April 2014.
The target, set in 2010, has contributed to a reduction in the overall risk level crossings pose to the network by 25%.
In Scotland, 58 crossings have been removed from the rail network in the last four years, while 15 of the country’s 23 open level crossings have been fitted with the company’s new AOCL+B barrier system. In total, there are 591 crossings in Scotland.
The majority of crossings closed have been footpath or user worked crossings (on private land and largely used by land owner, farmers, delivery and utility vehicles but run across main line railway).
Across the UK since 2010, Network Rail has invested £131m in a national level crossings improvement programme, which by the end of March will have resulted in:
- 38 footbridges to replace crossings
- 57 new spoken warnings installed to announce “another train is coming” when one train has already passed through
- Obstacle detection radar technology installed at 13 sites
- New barrier technology installed at 33 sites which previously had open crossings
- New warning lights installed at 16 crossings
- 250 power operated gate openers installed to prevent vehicle owners crossing the tracks on foot unnecessarily or gates being left open
- ‘Wavetrain’ sound vibration technology trialled at Whitehouse Priory View crossing in Norfolk
- GPS technology installed on the Marks Tey – Sudbury line allowing signallers to pinpoint a train’s location and provide better safety information to those requesting permission to cross
- 21 crossings fitted with red light safety cameras to dissuade motorists from jumping the lights.
- 13 mobile safety camera enforcement vans operated by British Transport Police
- 100 new Network Rail level crossing managers
- National TV and digital advertising campaign – See Track, Think Train
- Rail Life schools awareness campaign www.rail-life.co.uk
Network Rail has pledged close a further 500 crossings in the next five years, investing more than £100m over this period as part of its ongoing programme of work to improve safety and reduce risk to passengers and the wider public.
Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations for Network Rail, said: “Britain’s railway is safer than ever before, but even so there will always be a certain level of risk to motorists or pedestrians where a road, footpath or cycleway crosses the tracks. Network Rail is committed to reduce that risk as much as possible and if we are able to close a level crossing, we will.
“Reaching our target to close 750 crossings in four years is good news for Network Rail, train operators and of course the public, but we cannot be complacent. There is much more we can do to make the level crossings that remain safer and we will continue to introduce new technology, upgrade crossings to include lights or barriers where appropriate and work with schools, communities and other organisations to spread awareness of our safety message.
“We’ve pledged to close a further 500 level crossings in the next five years. Successfully closing a crossing isn’t always a straightforward process, so we will need the support from local authorities, landowners and the public to help us achieve our new target and improve safety further still.”