Bid to improve rail crossing safety

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has outlined a range of new proposals to improve safety at level crossings, including higher penalties for motorists who misuse them.

All automatic open level crossings (AOCLs) across the country will be inspected over the next year to make sure they comply with safety laws and are managed properly, the regulator said.

In September this year three people were killed at an AOCL in Caithness after their car was hit by a train, and earlier in January an 18-year-old was killed on the level crossing at Gatehead, Ayrshire.

ORR chief executive, Bill Emery, said: "Recent incidents at level crossings, in particular at AOCLs, have increased concerns over their safety.

"That is why we are undertaking extensive work aimed at reducing the risk of accidents at all types of level crossings.

"We will also inspect all 128 automatic open level crossings across Britain and have advised Network Rail to review line speed at AOCLs in line with industry guidelines."

The ORR intends urge the Sentencing Guidelines Council to raise suggested penalties for level crossing misuse and revise its own guidance in this area by spring 2010.

It has also called for a prioritised programme for upgrade of crossings which involve local communities and highway authorities.

Copyright © Press Association 2009