MP calling for safety improvements at railway crossing
PUBLISHED: 06:30 02 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:49 02 July 2020
An MP is calling for improved safety at railway crossings after a near miss between a train and multiple cars.
Peter Aldous, who represents Suffolk’s Waveney constituency, is pushing for high-level talks after the incident at the user-worked crossing in Worlingham, near Beccles, on June 8 at around 1.42pm.
These crossings are operated by people who use the road rather than through an automated system.
Mr Aldous said: “It is concerning. I will be bringing this up and talking about it with Network Rail and Greater Anglia.”
He added he needed to look into the issues surrounding railway crossing “as quickly as possible”.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has carried out an initial investigation into the incident which involved a train on the East Suffolk line travelling from Lowestoft to Ipswich.
A spokesperson for the RAIB said: “The signaller had given permission for the vehicles to cross. The incident resulted in no injuries or damage.”
Mr Aldous said the safety concerns were heightened after 10-year-old James How, from Earsham, suffered serious brain injuries after the car he was travelling in was hit by a train at the level crossing in Barnby, near Beccles, further down from Worlingham, in 2010.
MORE: Rail company fined over boy who was badly injured in crash at level crossing at Barnby
Mr Aldous added: “Across East Anglia there are far more crossings like the user-operated one in Worlingham than anywhere else in the UK. One does need to look at reducing them. They do need to be looked at to provide more resilient and better railways.”
But he said that the process of upgrading railway infrastructure required sensitive negotiations with landowners and interested parties including groups including the Ramblers.
Upgrades could include closing crossings and diverting road traffic, making the crosses automatic.
Suffolk district and county councillor Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw said: “Safety is paramount but access is important. It is about balancing these matters.”
She added many user-worked crossings were used to access land.
The near miss comes after a Greater Anglia Train was seconds from hitting two cars at the Thorpe End crossing between Norwich and Sheringham in November 2019 after the automatic level crossing barriers rose too soon.
Ian Bradler, director for route health safety quality and environment at Network Rail, said: “We are committed to make level crossings as safe as possible for everyone and we take incidents like this very seriously. We are carrying out a full investigation and will incorporate any learning into what we are already doing.”
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