COUNTY NEWS: School minibus among 150 vehicles caught risking lives on level crossing

Network Rail is calling for drivers to not risk their lives for the sake of a few minutes at Yapton crossing. Picture: Network Rail
Network Rail is calling for drivers to not risk their lives for the sake of a few minutes at Yapton crossing. Picture: Network Rail

A school minibus was among more than 150 vehicles caught ignoring warning lights at a busy level crossing in two months.

Network Rail recently installed a red light enforcement camera at Yapton level crossing to improve saftey.

There’s less than 30 seconds from the lights showing to a train passing over the road

Paul Coleman

It announced today that more than 60 motorists were caught risking their lives ignoring the crossing lights in the camera’s first month of operation.

A further 94 were caught but not prosecuted while the camera was in ‘test’ mode the month before, including a school minibus and a bus.

Network Rail and the British Transport Police installed the camera to improve safety at the crossing, which sees more than 300 trains each day and thousands of cars.

Many drivers use the road as a cut-through between the A259 and the A27.

Network Rail’s head of level crossings in the South East, Paul Coleman, said: “These cameras were installed after concerns about drivers’ behaviour at the crossing.

“Although it’s early days yet, it’s good to see that we’ve seen a drop in the number of drivers risking their lives since the cameras were switched on earlier in the summer.

“Yapton level crossing works automatically, meaning trains set off the warning lights and the barrier sequence as they approach.

“That means there’s less than 30 seconds from the lights showing to a train passing over the road.

“Drivers who run the red lights or worse, swerve round the barriers, are risking their lives and those of our passengers.”

Inspector Becky Warren from British Transport Police said: “Every time you ignore a signal, audible warning or an amber or red light you risk your life and the lives of other rail and road users.

“It is not worth risking your life or a criminal record just to save a few minutes on your journey.”

Money raised from any prosecutions does not come back to the railway, so the cameras are there purely to improve safety.

As a result of the risk to trains from poor driver behaviour, train speeds over the crossing are limited to 30mph, rather than 75mph on the surrounding railway.

Network Rail is now consulting with stakeholders on a plan to improve safety further, with options including changing the level crossing from an automatic half-barrier system to a manual full-barrier system.

Another option, being worked on with West Sussex County Council, is to change the road layout and move the nearby junction further away.