New van cams to stop car crossing gamblers

Banbury Cake: A 21-year-old driver was unhurt, but badly shaken, after he drove out in front of a First Great Western train at Shiplake level crossing in 2006. All 50 passengers and the driver of the train, which was between Henley and Twyford, escaped injury A 21-year-old driver was unhurt, but badly shaken, after he drove out in front of a First Great Western train at Shiplake level crossing in 2006. All 50 passengers and the driver of the train, which was between Henley and Twyford, escaped injury

IF YOU think you still have time to get across a railway level crossing as you drive up to it with the warning lights and klaxons blaring, think again.

You could be being watched by police using the latest piece of level crossing safety equipment being deployed in Oxfordshire by the railway industry – a purpose-built camera van.

The van allows British Transport Police officers to keep a close eye on crossings where drivers and pedestrians are known to gamble on beating the warning signals, barriers – and trains – as well as providing video evidence for prosecutions.

Kit costing more than £15,000 is fitted, including nine cameras and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) equipment, so officers can quickly identify a vehicle’s owner.

In the most serious cases, drivers will be reported for prosecution for dangerous or careless driving. In others warning letters will be sent offering motorists the option of taking a level crossing safety course instead of being fined and getting penalty points on their licence.

Among the first locations to be visited by the van was Shiplake, in South Oxfordshire. Here, the level crossing at the village station has been the scene of a number of serious incidents.

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Lifting barriers are due to be fitted at the crossing by March. BTP Inspector Justin Archer said: at the crossing by next March.

BTP Inspector Justin Archer said: "Level crossings aren't dangerous, it's when people don't comply with the safety measures that they become dangerous.

“Shiplake is a known hotspot for problems. We will visit other locations based on reports from our officers and from Network Rail.”

Among other level crossings expected to be visited soon are the Sandy Lane and Yarnton Lane crossings, between Yarnton and Kidlington.

It comes as a four-year-old girl was killed when the car she was in with her grandmother was hit by a train on a level crossing in South Yorkshire on Tuesday.

Sgt Dominique Ioannou added: “Using equipment like this is all about deterrence and education – and about saving lives – by encouraging drivers to think about the risks at level crossings.”

Funding for the vehicle came from Network Rail. Its western route director, Patrick Hallgate, said: “Ideally, we don’t want to prosecute anyone, because we don’t want people to misuse level crossings in the first place. “But at the moment we need to put enforcement alongside education.”

The message also applies to those on footpaths and bridleways, which account for more than half of the 720 crossings in the region he oversees.

Sharon Vye-Parminter, head of safety and environment for First Great Western, which operates trains on the branch line between Henley and Twyford, said: “A near-miss with a vehicle can affect our drivers severely and can be a very scary situation for them.”

In the past three years there have been 44 reported incidents of misuse of Shiplake level crossing. Train drivers reported 11 near-misses.

Across the Thames Valley, there have been 78 reported incidents since April this year. From April last year to March this year there were 102 incidents, up from 75 in the previous 12 months and from 56 in 2009-10.

For safety information, see networkrail.co.uk/level-crossings

Comments (7)

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9:51pm Mon 10 Dec 12

pwharley says...

I disgaree with it being a marked van. Motorists will see it and "behave", yet return to their "let's chance it" ways when it's not present.

A covert vehicle would be far better in catching, prosecuting and banning these idiots.
I disgaree with it being a marked van. Motorists will see it and "behave", yet return to their "let's chance it" ways when it's not present. A covert vehicle would be far better in catching, prosecuting and banning these idiots. pwharley

7:18am Tue 11 Dec 12

Horsewagled says...

And the van can video the train hitting the tanker truck stuck across the tracks because the railroads are too dumb to have video out ahead of the trains with sucky brakes and no steering going too fast.

Why not trade the van for some IPHONES along the tracks showing the junk 1800s designed signals failing with a wind change?
And the van can video the train hitting the tanker truck stuck across the tracks because the railroads are too dumb to have video out ahead of the trains with sucky brakes and no steering going too fast. Why not trade the van for some IPHONES along the tracks showing the junk 1800s designed signals failing with a wind change? Horsewagled

7:49am Tue 11 Dec 12

snert says...

Why not spend the money putting better barriers up and also barriers that come down sooner instead of wasting money on paying someone to watch something potentially happen? Fining someone for attempting to cross when the sirens are going is one thing but being there to catch them and being too late and ending watching them get hit is another.
Why not spend the money putting better barriers up and also barriers that come down sooner instead of wasting money on paying someone to watch something potentially happen? Fining someone for attempting to cross when the sirens are going is one thing but being there to catch them and being too late and ending watching them get hit is another. snert

7:50am Tue 11 Dec 12

Myron Blatz says...

Why not just bring back level crossing gates? In this day and age of techno advancement, they could be auto-operated without need for costly manual labour.
Why not just bring back level crossing gates? In this day and age of techno advancement, they could be auto-operated without need for costly manual labour. Myron Blatz

8:10am Tue 11 Dec 12

Marco00 says...

Lets face it, whatever they do for safety there will always be the pillocks who think it does not apply to them.
Plain, unmarked van, Instant disqualification for an extended period, and a justice system that knows what it is doing.
Lets face it, whatever they do for safety there will always be the pillocks who think it does not apply to them. Plain, unmarked van, Instant disqualification for an extended period, and a justice system that knows what it is doing. Marco00

9:07am Tue 11 Dec 12

Fred Chilvers says...

Horsewagled wrote:
And the van can video the train hitting the tanker truck stuck across the tracks because the railroads are too dumb to have video out ahead of the trains with sucky brakes and no steering going too fast.

Why not trade the van for some IPHONES along the tracks showing the junk 1800s designed signals failing with a wind change?
You don't know much about modern railway signalling systems, do you, Horsewagled?

The change that may well be necessary has nothing to do with the train and signalling technology. It is only necessary because a small number of drivers cannot be trusted to behave resonsibly - and that change is the installation of full width barriers to prevent foolish drivers from weaving past half-barriers.
[quote][p][bold]Horsewagled[/bold] wrote: And the van can video the train hitting the tanker truck stuck across the tracks because the railroads are too dumb to have video out ahead of the trains with sucky brakes and no steering going too fast. Why not trade the van for some IPHONES along the tracks showing the junk 1800s designed signals failing with a wind change?[/p][/quote]You don't know much about modern railway signalling systems, do you, Horsewagled? The change that may well be necessary has nothing to do with the train and signalling technology. It is only necessary because a small number of drivers cannot be trusted to behave resonsibly - and that change is the installation of full width barriers to prevent foolish drivers from weaving past half-barriers. Fred Chilvers

6:17pm Tue 11 Dec 12

Pavinder Msvarensy says...

This has nothing to do with safety, all it will do is anpr somebody for prosecution. What good will that do when the driver is dead, maybe they will bring his widow to court to pay the fine. In these days of elf n safety, when you can't even deliver milk without a Hi-Viz, why are drivers allowed to cross a railway when a train is coming? Oh Yeah I can guess the answer, MONEY, too expensive to fit barriers.
This has nothing to do with safety, all it will do is anpr somebody for prosecution. What good will that do when the driver is dead, maybe they will bring his widow to court to pay the fine. In these days of elf n safety, when you can't even deliver milk without a Hi-Viz, why are drivers allowed to cross a railway when a train is coming? Oh Yeah I can guess the answer, MONEY, too expensive to fit barriers. Pavinder Msvarensy

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