Network Rail is to target Woodsmoor level crossing on the Stockport to Hazel Grove/Buxton rail line a week after its new television safety advertisement was launched. The crossing is heavily used by pedestrians, particularly schoolchildren, who often dash across at the last minute – even after the lights have started flashing and the barriers are coming down.
Fortunately there have not been any major incidents at the crossing, but trains can be delayed if the barriers have to be stopped from lowering because of people taking a chance at the last minute.
Network Rail’s community safety manager Gemma Duffy, said: “Even though the advert is aimed at people using rural footpath crossings, the message is just as important for anyone using a busy crossing in a town centre.
“That’s why we will be at Woodsmoor crossing, talking to both pedestrians and motorists so they know the risk they are taking by jumping the lights or rushing across at the last minute.”
The advertisement depicts a family taking a slow and easy ramble through the countryside, playing a game of “I spy” which distracts them as they approach the footpath crossing. The daughter is standing on the crossing as she realises the answer to the game is “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with t, is track” but it is too late and she is struck by the train.
Network Rail hopes the powerful message “See track, think train” will raise awareness that paying attention to warning signs can save your life.
As well as the television and online campaigns, Network Rail is also taking more practical measures by investing £50,000 in a new camera van for British Transport Police.
Ms Duffy explained: “We have done this because of the safety risk posed by level crossing misuse. Reckless behaviour puts everyone at risk - motorists, pedestrians and the railway.“
The van is equipped with nine cameras, including one on a telescopic mast, all capable of reading car number plates. It also has digital recording equipment, computer links to the DVLA and on-board printers that can be used to send fixed penalty notices to anyone committing an offence.
The number plate recognition means the van can also check for uninsured drivers or vehicles without the correct tax disk.
As soon as the lights start to flash, the van records any vehicles going over the level crossing. Any that commit an offence can expect to hear from the police.
The van will be visiting hot spot level crossings throughout Greater Manchester and Merseyside on a random basis.