Elderly woman hurt after being hit on head by Polegate level crossing barrier

Polegate Level Crossing
Polegate Level Crossing
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An 89-year-old woman was injured after the barrier at Polegate level crossing hit her head.

Violet Tarrant suffered head injuries and said she feared for her life after the incident on Friday (November 17).

In an interview with the BBC, she said she was not given enough time to cross.

She said, “I thought I was just going to die lying on that line. It terrified me.”

Luckily a passer-by reportedly intervened and helped her off the track before the train came.

But this is not the first time residents have had problems with the crossing.

Peter Cox, of Albert Road, wrote to the Herald following the incident and called the crossing ‘hazardous’. He said people only have eight seconds to cross from when the lights started to flash, which is not enough time for many to make it.

He said, “I have asked for either a CCTV system similar to Hampden Park be installed or the radar scan be done before any barrier is lowered but Network Rail refuse.

“Network Rail may want to accept a few people hit now and then but I don’t.

“I have timed elderly disabled users taking between 22 and 36 seconds to cross but they only have eight seconds to get across with the current system and those already on the crossing when closure is activated cannot get clear.”

And Christine Link, of Lower Dicker, said she got in touch with Network Rail earlier this year after she saw an elderly woman’s carer had to pull her across because the barrier was coming down.

She said she complained about the incident and Network Rail told her if anyone was near the barriers it would rise.

Mrs Link said, “Then to my distress I heard that this poor lady had been caught.”

Responding to the incident, a spokesperson for Network Rail said, “We understand this incident will have been extremely distressing for Mrs Tarrant and her family and we hope she recovers quickly and fully from her injuries.

“Immediately after Friday’s incident, our local level crossing team carried out a full check of the level crossing, which was found to be in full working order.

“CCTV footage of the incident has confirmed that the crossing was working correctly at the time of the incident, with both visible and audible warnings in operation and signage in place to advise users of the how to cross safely.

“We have made a number of changes to the crossing at Polegate in recent years following feedback from the local community.

“It now has audible warnings on all four corners of the crossing with the volume increased to the highest permitted level, plus new ‘red men’ warning lights just like a pedestrian crossing to make clear when pedestrians should and should not cross.

“In addition, the crossing operates with ‘obstacle detection’ technology which uses radars to detect the presence of any cars, pedestrians, or objects on the crossing.

“When the system detects a pedestrian attempting to cross as the barriers have started to lower the detection triggers the system to halt the barrier sequence and stop the approaching train from passing through until the crossing is clear.

“Therefore, while there was no risk of a train coming through, we do understand that this would have been a very unsettling experience for Mrs Tarrant and thank the passing member of public for assisting her.”