Technology improves rail crossing safety

CUTTING-EDGE camera technology has been introduced as part of a region-wide pilot by Network Rail and the British Transport Police to reduce disruption at level crossings for motorists and train passengers in Sussex.

Network Rail has funded a purpose-built marked police van to be fitted with nine cameras, each of which can use number plate recognition technology to help deter motorists from breaking the law.

One of the cameras is attached to a pole which extends up to ten metres into the air, enabling the van to operate without being right next to the level crossing – particularly important when space is constrained.

The van, which is operated by British Transport Police officers, also has access to all the systems required to process prosecutions instantly.

Level crossing misuse remains a big issue for the railway, with daily reports of motorists putting lives at risk, causing major delays for passengers and motorists and costing the industry thousands of pounds.

The new mobile camera technology has been introduced to try and change motorist behaviour and deter them from jumping lights and swerving around barriers and gates.

Ellie Reilly, community safety manager at Network Rail, said, “It’s in everybody’s interests to reduce disruption at level crossings.

“Many people who misuse level crossings know it is wrong and that they are taking a risk, but that doesn’t seem to stop them.

“They think it is a victimless crime, but even if they don’t actually damage the crossing, it frequently results in delays to passengers and motorists.

“The best situation for everyone is that nobody misuses the level crossings and therefore there are no prosecutions.

“The introduction of the camera vehicle will help deter bad behaviour and misuse.

“This is a good example of how Network Rail is investing in the latest technology to deliver a more cost effective and reliable railway.”

Superintendent Alistair Lawson, from the British Transport Police, said, “We have a good safety record in comparison to most other countries but misuse of crossing persists, despite our best efforts, and even one death is one too many.

“Jumping the lights and ignoring warning signs is still sadly a sight we see all too often. Running the risk at a level crossing is just not worth it. By trying to save a few seconds, you could end up seriously hurt or losing your life.”