Probe after train almost hit two cars at crossing

CCTV image of near miss at railway level crossing in Norfolk

CCTV image from the train as it approached the crossing. - Credit: Greater Anglia

A train came within just three seconds of crashing into a car being driven over a Norfolk level crossing, investigators have said.

And the train also narrowly avoided a second car which was about to cross the level crossing between Coltishall and Tunstead in the near miss last month. 

The Rail Accident Investigation Board (RAIB) is examining the sequence of events which led to the close call at the crossing in Tunstead Road at about 5.20pm on Thursday, January 21.

Railway level crossing near Tunstead in Norfolk

The Tunstead Road level crossing, between Coltishall and Tunstead. - Credit: Google Maps

CCTV evidence from the Greater Anglia train showed the first car cleared the crossing around three seconds before the train passed.

The second car, which was approaching the railway from the same direction as the first, stopped clear of the crossing as the train approached.

No one was injured and no damage was caused by the incident.

At the time of the incident, the crossing was seeing higher than normal levels of road traffic due to the temporary closure of a nearby main road.

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The RAIB said the crossing is fitted with telephones and drivers are directed by signs to use those to get permission from the signaller before opening the crossing gates and crossing the railway.

The RAIB said it has been unable to find any evidence that a request to use the crossing was made by the drivers of the cars involved.

They said their investigation will aim to determine the sequence of events that led to near miss.

It will consider how the crossing was being managed by Network Rail, including how risks associated with a user worked crossing on a public road were assessed and mitigated.

It will also consider the presence of user worked crossings on public roads more generally and any other relevant underlying issues.

The RAIB said: "We will publish our findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of our investigation."

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We are committed to making level crossings as safe as possible for everyone and we take incidents like this very seriously.

“We continue to cooperate with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and will consider any recommendations made once the investigation is complete.”

In December, the RAIB published its findings into a near miss in November 2019, when a Greater Anglia train come within a quarter of a second of hitting a car at a crossing at Thorpe End, near Norwich.

The investigation found leaves on the line meant the level crossing equipment misinterpreted the train's position, so the barrier was re-opened too soon.