Network Rail reminds drivers to be alert at level crossings following 'too many incidents and near misses'

Date published: 25 February 2021

Network Rail is reminding drivers to be vigilant when travelling near level crossings as ‘there are still too many incidents and near misses every year’.

The railway line at Smithy Bridge - where trains travel in excess of 60 mph throughout the day - is just one of over six-thousand level crossings in Britain.

Despite being the only one in Rochdale, the crossing in Littleborough has had its fair share of incidents in the past, with cars becoming stuck in between the tracks and lorries colliding with the barriers, causing traffic and disruption.


The car stuck on the line at Smithy Bridge Railway Station
An incident at Smithy Bridge level crossing in January 2019


In a video shared to raise awareness for drivers, a spokesperson for Network Rail said: “At Network Rail we employ over 100 level crossing managers to monitor and report on over 6,000 level crossings across our network.

“We endeavour to close unsafe level crossings wherever possible and make those that remain open even safer.

“We estimate 3.5 million vehicles and over 600,000 pedestrians or cyclists use our level crossings every day.

“Given the trains can travel over those same crossings approximately 400,000 times per day, the potential for incidents is obvious.”

“Incidents happen on our railway network every year with deadly consequences, and most of those incidents could be eradicated with responsible and safe behaviour being displayed by drivers.”



To keep yourself and others safe at level crossings, there are key guidelines outlined by Network Rail that drivers should follow:

  • Be prepared to stop at a level crossing
  • Understand the warnings (lights, barriers, alarms)
  • If the warnings activate, stop – unless it is unsafe to do so
  • Remain stationery until all the warnings stop
  • Check that the exit is clear before driving across
  • You should also never stop or park on, or near, a crossing

Since 2009 Network Rail have delivered the following as part of their commitment to a safer railway:

  • Closed over 1,250 level crossings
  • Continue to improve the sighting at level crossings where possible
  • Fitted LED road traffic lights at over 500 crossings, significantly improving their brightness
  • Introduced new technology to better inform users of a second train approaching the crossing in quick succession to the first
  • Repositioned over 250 crossing phones into safe areas for users
  • Designed and commissioned a new type of level crossing featuring automatic obstacle detection technology
  • Installed barriers at 66 open crossings
  • Work closely with British Transport Police to discourage deliberate misuse and to record offences at level crossings
  • Rolled out level crossing red light safety cameras, with 84 currently installed across the network
  • Commissioned 111 audible warning devices at high risk footpath crossings
  • Delivered a programme of 100 miniature stop lights for installation at user worked crossings.

Trespassing on the railway is illegal and dangerous. You could be taken to court and face a £1,000 fine.

The East Lancashire Railway (ELR) also issued a stark safety warning earlier this month urging trespassers to stay off the heritage railway tracks while it remains closed during lockdown.

ELR Chairman Mike Kelly said walking on the line remains dangerous as maintenance trains are still running, despite it being closed to the public.


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