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Childminder says faulty train crossing barrier led to moment of terror

PUBLISHED: 09:59 28 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:59 28 September 2019

Childminder Isabella Keaney at the Brandon level crossing where she and five children who were with her, had a close call as the barriers started to come down while they were crossing. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Childminder Isabella Keaney at the Brandon level crossing where she and five children who were with her, had a close call as the barriers started to come down while they were crossing. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

A childminder has told of the terrifying moment a level crossing began to close as she and five children were in the middle of the train tracks.

Childminder Isabella Keaney, and her children, Oakley, two, and Fletcher, seven-months, at Brandon level crossing where they had a close call when the barriers started to come down as they were crossing. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYChildminder Isabella Keaney, and her children, Oakley, two, and Fletcher, seven-months, at Brandon level crossing where they had a close call when the barriers started to come down as they were crossing. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Isabella Keaney, from Brandon, said she was forced to run to the other side as the barrier was closing without warning.

She said she and the children scraped under it just in time, with Ms Keaney suffering a bump on the head in the process in the September 25 incident.

However, Network Rail deny there was a problem and say video footage shows the warning lights were flashing and sirens sounding.

The town's level crossing is a regular talking point amid claims it regularly gets stuck down for up to 30 minutes at a time.

Childminder Isabella Keaney at the Brandon level crossing where she and five children who were with her, had a close call as the barriers started to come down while they were crossing. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYChildminder Isabella Keaney at the Brandon level crossing where she and five children who were with her, had a close call as the barriers started to come down while they were crossing. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The malfunctioning level crossing has particularly impacted those on the school run, with Ms Keaney, who uses the crossing with three to five children everyday, claiming that local schools have been inundated with calls in the morning about it.

She said the only way to get around the crossing in Brandon was to use a footbridge, however this was impossible for people with children in buggies, meaning they had to drive a further 15 minutes around the railway through either Thetford or Hockwold.

The childminder wrote to National Rail after becoming concerned for the safety of those crossing, but says she was just given a generic response telling her they would come back to her and at the time of writing she has not received a reply.

She said: "I just hope me standing up and saying something will get it fixed. If it was an elderly person crossing maybe they wouldn't have been able to think so quickly and get across."

Childminder Isabella Keaney, and her children, Oakley, two, and Fletcher, seven-months, at Brandon level crossing where they had a close call when the barriers started to come down as they were crossing. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYChildminder Isabella Keaney, and her children, Oakley, two, and Fletcher, seven-months, at Brandon level crossing where they had a close call when the barriers started to come down as they were crossing. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But a Network Rail spokesman said: "The level crossing at Brandon has been inspected and is functioning properly. Having reviewed the footage at the crossing on the morning on 25 September, due to the busy road and a tractor passing at the same time, the pedestrian may not have seen the warning lights, or heard the warning siren.

"The lights and audible siren let pedestrians and road users know a train is approaching and they must always stop when they see or hear them."

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