Man on crutches left shaken by rail level crossing ordeal

Paul Ely at Berwick railway crossing (Photo by Jon Rigby)
Paul Ely at Berwick railway crossing (Photo by Jon Rigby)

A man on crutches who says he was nearly struck by a level crossing said it is ‘extremely dangerous’ for disabled people and something needs to be done.

Dr Paul Ely says he was half way across Berwick Level Crossing when the alarm started ringing. The former plant scientist, who is recovering from a knee replacement operation, said he was forced to run to get over in time and missed being hit by the barrier by a ‘split second’.

Berwick railway crossing (Photo by Jon Rigby)

Berwick railway crossing (Photo by Jon Rigby)

Mr Ely said, “It was extremely scary, it was my first time out on my own, I have been through hell and back with my knee.

“It shook me up something chronic for about two hours, I could hardly do anything. There’s clearly something seriously wrong.”

The 62-year-old, who lives in Berwick, said when he approached at about 10.50am on Saturday (April 7) the barriers were down so he waited for the train to pass. But he said he was only three steps over it when he saw the barriers coming down again.

He said, “I legged it as fast as I could and collapsed on the other side. It gave me no warning, it came down very quickly, it was extremely dangerous.”

Mr Ely, who said the barrier showed no sign it had detected him, said, “It’s not at all safe for disabled people. What if I’d have been blind? I think this is one step too far.

“I know what happened in Polegate was a disaster. They should do something or someone will get killed.”

A Network Rail Spokesperson said, “The crossing at Berwick is a standard type used at many dozens of locations across the country and we are not aware of any previous problems at this location.

“Like others in the area, it uses ‘obstacle detection’ technology to detect the presence of any cars, pedestrians, or objects on the crossing and raise the barriers if anything is detected. Trains are only given the green light to proceed if the crossing is clear.”

Anyone with concerns can get in touch by calling 03457 11 41 41.

To read about what happened at Polegate click here and here.