The summer holidays are in full swing and with COVID restrictions lifting, a Network Rail level crossing manager is urging that people in Lincolnshire know how to safely use crossings.
Val Stephens oversees the management of approximately 80 level crossings in the Lincolnshire area, and is part of a team of 9 who oversee 900 crossings throughout the East Midlands area, including public roads, footpaths and crossings on private land.
Two of the crossings Val manages are the busiest in the UK, these being Lincoln High Street which sees in the region of 21,000 pedestrians and cyclists and 100 vehicles each day. The second extremely busy crossing is Brayford Wharf which see approximately 11,000 people crossing each day.
Whilst bridges have been put into place over the railway for both of these extremely busy level crossings to provide a safe option to cross and roads reduced to just one lane, people are still being distracted and sometimes totally ignore the warning signs.
Braydon Wharf has seen three reported misuse incidents by pedestrians so far this year. 2020 saw 11 near-miss incidents at Lincoln High Street level crossing. Near miss incidents are incidents that are reported by the train driver where they often have had to apply the emergency brake.
Network Rail’s current level crossing campaign focuses on the dangers of distraction while using a level crossing, you can find further information on this here.
Val’s work is vital to keeping the network running and the public safe, undertaking essential inspections of each crossing to ensure they are working safely and effectively. Val also speaks in local communities to raise awareness about using level crossings safely.
Network Rail also partnered with British Transport Police on Friday the 30th of July 2021 for a community safety event at Lincoln High Street level crossing in a bid to raise awareness.
Val said: “We’ve seen a massive increase in the number of people out and about in recent weeks. It’s great to see people getting back to some kind of normal life. I’d just like to ask everyone who is using a level crossing for what might be the first time in a while to take a moment to consciously think about what they are doing and make sure they’re keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.
“It’s easy to get distracted or to think it won’t matter to rush across after the lights have started just this once. But it’s also extremely dangerous and could result in tragic consequences.”
PS Richard Kane, British Transport Police, said: “Level crossings should be treated with the upmost seriousness, and we work very closely with Network Rail to educate the public and make sure that the safety measures which are in place are followed.
“I ask that everyone using level crossings have a little patience and wait until it’s safe to cross – it really isn’t worth risking serious harm in order to save a few minutes.”
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