Level crossing problem on a heritage railway.

Discussion in 'Railtours & Preservation' started by 2HAP, 16 Nov 2019.

  1. 2HAP

    2HAP Member

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    I was reading the recent RAIU report on a collision between a train and a lorry, caused by the gates to on occupation crossing being left open, encouraging the driver of said lorry to cross railway without stopping, thus bringing the lorry into the path of the train.

    The thought occurred to me that there is a heritage railway i know of which has this very problem. An occupation crossing where the users are in the habit of not closing the gates. Obviously those that live at the premises accessed via the crossing are aware the railway is there. One would expect that they at least would be a little cautious at the crossing. However, what about those delivering to the premises? They would be less aware of the crossing, and an open gate would be an inducement to think the way is clear. There is potential for an accident, possibly leading to derailment and/or fatatilies.

    The railway seem unable to get the users of this particular crossing to close the gates (it has been flagged up to them that it is happening). So, who do I need to report this to? Let's be clear, I'm not blaming the heritage railway in question, the fault lies entirely with those who live in premises accessed via the crossing.
     
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  3. carriageline

    carriageline Established Member

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    Surely it should be reported to the railway? Then it’s the railways responsibility to liaise with the users, and make sure the crossing is used. If they know it’s being misused, then surely they can revoke access on safety grounds (not sure how this works leagally)

    On the national network, you have level crossing managers. If someone is repeatedly misusing the crossing, they pop round and have a friendly chat and rehired them on how to use the crossing
     
  4. 2HAP

    2HAP Member

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    I doubt that the HR in question can revoke access to the crossing, given that there is no alternative access to the premises. Said HR was formerly operated by British Rail and closed by them. Since reopened as a HR.
     
  5. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    It's a common cause of accidents. In past years everyone using that type of crossing would probably have been known to the registered user - same milkman postman etc. But these days many different people working for different companies may be making deliveries to a particular premises, and many of them will never have been there before and may not even know that there is such as thing as an occupation crossing.

    Some small steps have been made with mechanized crossings where the user presses a button to open and close the gates, so doesn't have to cross over five times to work them by hand. But such systems have cost money and even Network Rail hasn't installed very many - and they carry risks of their own if a the user assumes the fact gates will open when they press the button means no train is approaching.
     
  6. Spartacus

    Spartacus Established Member

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    On the 'main line' the BTP are often calling in to 'have a word' with people who are known deliberate misusers......
     
  7. randyrippley

    randyrippley Established Member

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    Does the BTP have any powers over preserved / private railways?
     
  8. cav1975

    cav1975 Member

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    No, they don't.
     
  9. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    This is an issue on very many preserved railways, and on the national network too in some places. I don’t think there’s a catch-all solution, as even auto-closing gates would probably find themselves being propped open or vandalised by some people.

    Heritage railways staff do however tend to know their patch very well, so I’d suggest in most cases the staff will make allowances for this misuse, like for example slowing right down before passing over the said crossing - something which isn’t so readily possible on the national network, although even here there have certainly been examples of long-term TSRs being imposed over particularly problematic crossings.

    Beyond this education is possibly the only other mitigation, sadly this will only get through to some people not all. Some will not outwardly realise that coming up against a closed gate is a fundamental and inherent part of the crossing safety setup.

    I’ve certainly seen some pretty nasty things particularly at UWC crossings, things like people not bothering to look at all before crossing, not bothering to phone where required to do so, getting arsey with the signaller, and perhaps worst of all driving on to the crossing before stopping and opening the far gate. Sooner or later it’s sad to say there’s going to be a *really* bad accident involving a UWC - over the years there’s been some nasty close shaves as it is, some of which could quite easily have resulted in a train careering off the rails at high speed. I’m glad my regular home/work train journey doesn’t involve passing over any such crossings.
     
  10. Midnight Sun

    Midnight Sun Member

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    Quarr Farm occupation Level crossing on the Swanage Railway has long had this problem. In 1999 on Boxing day, The 11.40am from Swanage collided with a car which drove on to the crossing without stopping and checking the way was clear (The farmer and his staff were always leaving the gates open. The farmer made a song and dance to the press afterwards demanding full crossing barriers. lights and alarms were installed. Then in June 2007 it happen again on the same crossing with a white Link Rider coach driving onto the crossing without stopping and was hit by the 12.40pm from Swanage.
     
    Last edited: 27 Nov 2019
  11. tpjm

    tpjm Member

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    Depending on how often this particular crossing is accessed, my first thoughts were, can the HR not install some LARGE signs on approach (put them in the road if need be) to convey to any unknowing users of the crossing? Something like:

    STOP
    EVEN IF GATES ARE OPEN.
    CONTACT SIGNALLER FOR
    PERMISSION BEFORE CROSSING.
     
  12. Edders23

    Edders23 Member

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    Is it not possible to install some simple LED lights linked into the track circuit which will illuminate when a train is approaching ?

    Also if a person causes a crash on a road and is at fault they can be prosecuted by the police does this not happen if a person collides with a train and it is their fault ? If misuse of a level crossing could get you penalty points on your license it might make people a bit more careful
     
  13. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

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    That would not be failsafe; it would have to be the other way round - illuminated unless a train was approaching.
     
  14. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    That presumes that the track is circuited and that there is power available to the crossing.
     
  15. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    The normal provision on Network Rail where "minor" crossings have any warning of approaching trains is to have both a red and a green light. I imagine a heritage line would have to follow NR practice, at least in terms of what the crossing users see, to avoid risk of confusion. Some barrow crossings at stations have a light that has to be lit before anyone can cross.
     
  16. 2HAP

    2HAP Member

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    I deliberately didn't name the HR in question. Let me be totally clear, in no way am I placing the blame anywhere other that with the abusers of the crossing in question. It is entirely possible that there are members of this forum who are also volunteers on the HR in question.

    Should I name the railway and identify the crossing?
     
  17. Edders23

    Edders23 Member

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    I think from the tone of the discussion no one is blaming the railway it's more a case of what could be done to improve things
     
  18. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

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    I'm guessing - without naming it - that it's the one with a dairy just to the south of one end of the line?
     
    Last edited: 30 Nov 2019
  19. Belperpete

    Belperpete Member

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    What would that achieve? As has already been posted, this problem affects a number of railways.

    A preserved railway that I know has the same problem, at more than one crossing. At one crossing, the users were unhappy that they had to open and close gates to access their property, when there was an open crossing without gates over a public road crossing a short distance further up the line. You can see their point - if that crossing didn't need gates, why did their crossing? However, the open crossing has a severe speed restriction - applying that restriction at every occupation crossing would seriously affect train speeds.

    At another UWC, I understand the users refused to close the gates. As I understand it, the official line was that the railway was ultimately responsible for safety, and so they imposed a speed restriction. Fortunately, in that case, there was already a speed restriction close-by that only needed a short extension, so not much impact.

    As has already been noted, BTP don't cover heritage railways, and the civilian police generally have higher priority matters to deal with.
     
  20. fireftrm

    fireftrm Member

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    the BTP do police at least one heritage railway......
     
  21. The Lad

    The Lad Member

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    Because they are a TOC
     
  22. fireftrm

    fireftrm Member

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    on their own line?
     
  23. Peter Mugridge

    Peter Mugridge Established Member

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    That's probably the North Yorkshire Moors Railway - they're legally regarded as a TOC for the shared section to Whitby aren't they?
     
  24. Gostav

    Gostav Member

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    So the NYMR pays for the BTP?
     
  25. chris_in_salop

    chris_in_salop Member

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    I'm not condoning level crossing misuse, but stepping into the road users' shoes for a moment - to them it appears that there is a bunch of grown men playing trains, and getting in the way of people doing proper work (farmers, delivery vans, etc). Threatening a visit from the BTP is unlikely to go down well.
     
  26. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    Don’t doubt there’s an element of truth to this - no doubt some people feel their shopping trip trumps everything and everyone else.
     
  27. Steptoe

    Steptoe Member

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    Undoubtedly this is a view held by a small percentage of users (and the 'body language' from their vehicles can be sensed!) but of course all heritage line level crossings were previously at some point 'main line' crossings with usage backed up by law.

    There was usually a period where the crossings were taken out of use so allowing road users the exclusive right of way and nowadays folks don't like having their perceived 'rights' taken away....
     
  28. Spartacus

    Spartacus Established Member

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    Having encountered a few with this attitude I doubt they'll care who's running the trains or why, even if they use it as an excuse when questioned. I've known the same attitude towards passenger trains of various speeds and 2400t coal trains.

    Never mind that preserved lines tend to generate a lot of 'proper jobs' and income, either directly employing people or by visitors helping keep open local businesses.
     
  29. unslet

    unslet Member

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    We have this problem at a railway at where I volunteer. It is a select few people who refuse to co-operate no matter how many times they are asked and,yes,they do often drive 4x4s. Unfortunately,our argument is not helped by a member of the railway staff who uses the crossing regularly. He always closes the nearer gate after him,but leaves the other one open. This kills our argument stone dead.
     
  30. alexl92

    alexl92 Established Member

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    Does nobody else on staff have a relationship with him that would allow them to call him out on that? Even in a friendly way that reminds him that it puts the railway in a difficult position?
     
  31. fireftrm

    fireftrm Member

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    TThis is an ideal oppoprtunity to support your position - discipline your member of staff to demonstrate how serioulsy you take these dangerous position and ultimately dismiss them if they fail to comply. The killing of your argument is your inability to deal with the member of staff. It is not what they are failing to do it is you failing to address that
     

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