Cyclists and pedestrians have been criticised for misusing level crossings and putting themselves at risk.
Network Rail is urging cyclists and pedestrians to use level crossings safely after a recent increase in misuse, with several people caught risking serious injury or worse.
The transport body has published images of people posing and sitting on train lines. The footage was captured at Trenos level crossing near Llanharan, where trains travel on the busy line between Cardiff and Swansea up to 85mph.
The worrying trend has seen BTP record 221 incidents of trespass and 67 incidents of misuse at level crossings so far this year – although the actual number of occasions people have risked their lives is thought to be much higher.
Other repeat locations in South Wales include Rhoose, Maesteg, Cilfrew, Llanelli, Llanion and Dinas Powys.
The worrying images have led to a plea from Network Rail and BTP for people not to loiter or be complacent when using a level crossing, no matter how scenic the location.
Parents are also being asked to ensure children are closely supervised when in the vicinity of the railway and the signage informing a user to Stop, Look and Listen is observed. Anyone not following these rules is risking serious consequences.
Ronnie Gallagher, Route Level Crossing Manager at Network Rail commented: “We have noticed a significant increase in use at public footpaths since the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions. People have been walking longer distances and many will be using level crossings for the first time. It is important that you concentrate, follow the instructions and only cross when there are no trains approaching.
British Transport Police Embedded Inspector, Beata Evans, said: “Each year, hundreds of people take risks on and around the railway, resulting in tragic consequences and life-changing injuries.
“We are continuing to proactively patrol the railway network across Wales. Safety is our number one priority and we’re reminding everyone of the importance of taking care around the railway and that everyone loses when you step on the track.”
How to use level crossings safely
The Department for Transport recently reported that during lockdown, cycling in some parts of the UK had risen by up to 300% on some days.
This, combined with the usual spike in outdoor exercise during the summer months, makes it even more important for people to be aware of how to use level crossings safely.
- Concentrate – it’s easy to get distracted, especially by phones, music and conversation.
- Stop, look and listen. Follow signs and instructions.
- Check both ways before crossing – if there is a train coming, don’t cross.
- Understand the warnings (lights, barriers, alarms).
- Cross quickly, keeping children close and dogs on a lead.
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