Technology upgrade to slash level crossing waiting times

·2-min read
New level crossing technology is to be rolled out across Britain (Network Rail/PA)
New level crossing technology is to be rolled out across Britain (Network Rail/PA)

Level crossing waiting times are set to be cut across Britain after the rollout of new technology was given the go ahead.

Network Rail said the successful trial of a speed-detection technique means it will be available for use at “complex” crossings nationwide.

The system is different to traditional methods as it differentiates between trains calling at a nearby station and those passing through without stopping.

A traffic light has been installed as part of the upgrade to a level crossing in Gloucestershire (Network Rail/PA)
A traffic light has been installed as part of the upgrade to a level crossing in Gloucestershire (Network Rail/PA)

That means warning alarms only need to be activated for a significantly shorter period.

A busy pedestrian crossing in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, was one of the first to be fitted with the technology.

Users previously faced inconsistent and often lengthy waits as the alarm for approaching trains would sound for anywhere between 30 seconds and five minutes, as the system could not detect if services were stopping or fast.

This led some people to cross the 90mph line while the warning was sounding, stepping into the path of oncoming trains.

The new technology means the alarm now only needs to sound for 18-25 seconds, and a traffic light has been installed to clarify when it is safe to cross.

Richard Pedley, Network Rail’s western route level crossing manager, said: “We’re pleased that this trial has proved so successful and provides a great example for rollout at similar level crossings nationwide where trains are likely to stop close by.

“The red/green light system, with its consistent warning time, will improve the confidence of users who need to cross the railway and reduce the amount of safety incidents.”

There are around 6,000 level crossings in Britain.

Figures from the Rail Safety and Standards Board show seven pedestrians died after accidentally being struck by trains at level crossings in the 12 months to the end of March.

There were also 378 near-misses with pedestrians and cyclists over that period.

That is an 11% increase on the previous 12 months and is the most in records dating back to 2002.

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