Network Rail apologies for past failings on level crossing safety
7 March 2014 • Author: Network Rail
Following publication of the Transport Select Committee’s report on level crossing safety, Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail has issued a full and unreserved apology on behalf of the infrastructure manager for past failings in managing public safety at level crossings and for its past behaviour towards bereaved families.
“Nothing we can say or do will lessen the pain felt by the families of those killed or injured at a level crossing, said Mark. “Today Network Rail is a very different company to the one which existed at the time of these tragic accidents. As we made clear when we pleaded guilty during the Elsenham court proceedings, it was a watershed in the way we thought about our approach to the risk at level crossings, and how we treat victims and their families. As a result of this transformation, level crossings in Great Britain are amongst the safest in Europe, but there is still much that we can, and will, do and the Committee’s recommendations will help us in that endeavour”
Reducing the risk
Since 2010, Network Rail has reduced the risk at levels crossings by a quarter by investing some £130 million in level crossing safety improvements including:
- Closing almost 800 crossings
- Appointing over 100 new level crossing managers each with personal responsibility for around 65 crossings
- Building 38 footbridges replace crossings
- National TV and digital advertising campaign – ‘See Track: Think Train’
- Rail Life schools awareness campaign
- Installing 57 new spoken warnings to announce ‘another train is coming’
- Installing new barrier technology at 33 sites which previously had open crossings
- Installing 250 power operated gate openers to prevent vehicle owners crossing the tracks on foot unnecessarily
- Fitting 21 crossings with red light safety cameras to dissuade motorists from jumping the lights
Network Rail is aware there is more they can do to make the level crossings that remain safer and they 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 their safety message. They have agreed funding of more than £100 million with the regulator to continue this work over the coming five years.
Transport Select Committee
The Transport Select Committee report makes 25 recommendations, 10 of which are specifically for Network Rail. The report makes clear using international data that level crossing safety on Britain’s railways is good by comparison with EU member states, second only to Luxembourg (with a rail network of 274km and 142 level crossings, compared to 32,000km in Britain and 6,300 level crossings). It concludes that safety at level crossings has greatly improved in the last five years, with the statistically significant fall in fatalities validating Network Rail’s claim of a 25% reduction in risk.
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