Railway level crossings endangering lives

TWO Crow country railway level crossings are endangering people’s lives, it is claimed, with one boy this week nearly being hit by a train while crossing.

Problems have been reported at Foxton and Shepreth level crossings, with concerns over safety.

This week, a 16-year-old boy was seen rushing across the Shepreth crossing just seconds before a train arrived. He was very close to being hit.

The safety issue has been raised with Network Rail, as well as Tina Hughes, who is campaigning for safer crossings after her 14-year-old daughter, Olivia Bazlinton, was killed at an Essex level crossing in 2005.

Ms Hughes has said that she believes the crossing should be upgraded to a full barrier.

“It’s concerning, because at the moment, the barriers are only a half barrier crossing,” said county councillor Susan van de Ven.

“Tina Hughes has taken a keen interest in our level crossing safety issues here. She actually took a look at the crossing and said that something really needed to be done.

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“Crossing like that was extremely foolish. It’s very important that nobody takes chances on a level crossing.”

Works are currently underway to improve the crossing at Foxton, following an incident in early February, in which two girls got trapped on the railway tracks when the self locking gates malfunctioned.

Since then, one of the same girls was involved in another incident where the gates locked again after she had started crossing.

Network Rail’s Anglia managing director is scheduled to meet people in Foxton and visit the crossing himself.

“This is good news, and I hope he has a lot of stamina because there will be some hard questions to answer,” added Cllr van de Ven.

Works have now begun to make the Foxton crossing safer, and are expected to be completed in a few months time.

A spokesman from Network Rail said: “Foxton level crossing is priority for Network Rail, and we have in recent weeks widened the footpath for pedestrians. Work to upgrade the pedestrian gates has begun - funding has been secured and work on the design is underway. The upgrade will be completed by mid-May and we are working hard to complete this sooner if possible.

“While we understand that people can’t see any physical work yet at the crossing, we can assure them that the work on this upgrade is ongoing.”

Network Rail did not mention any planned works for the Shepreth crossing, and claimed that it was safe.

“The warning signs and alarms are very clear at half barrier crossings,” added the spokesman. “However, if for any reason someone finds themselves on the crossings after the lights and alarm sequence has begun, they can easily exit as the other side of the barrier is open. It is this that enables people to exit safely from the crossing.”