'Stamp down' on crossing misuse

Network Rail has said judges should "stamp down" hard on motorists found guilty of jumping lights and dodging barriers on approaches to level crossings.

The call for tougher penalties comes after it released footage showing law-breaking at level crossings in Britain, which Network Rail claims is at a five-year high.

According to Network Rail, which owns and operates Britain's rail infrastructure, there were more than 3,400 recorded incidents of misuse at level crossings.

It said 95% of accidents at the crossings are caused by misuse or error, such as drivers ignoring red signals.

Each year 15 people are killed on level crossings, but three motorists a week are involved in near-misses because they ignore warning signs and lights or drove round barriers. This has resulted in 20 collisions between trains and vehicles.

Network Rail said the misuse cost £1.8 million last year and caused 55 days of delays to trains and passengers.

Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher said: "We think that the judiciary penalties received needs to reflect the seriousness of these crimes, and are calling on the judiciary to consider all these factors when handing down sentences."

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