A group of walkers has narrowly avoided being missed by a train at a foot crossing between Shoreham and Otford, in Kent.
While the front members of the group were already crossing when the train came in sight, the remaining walkers, rather than waiting for the train to pass and then crossing safely, ran to catch up with their friends. The train driver had to apply the emergency brake and the last walker was only a second or two from being run down.
This shocking near miss has prompted yet another an appeal from Network Rail for people to take care around pedestrian crossings over the railway.
Around the country, an increasing number of people are using footpath crossings as the weather has got warmer and COVID restrictions have been loosened. While some of these crossings have safety features, such as warning lights or electronic train horn sounds, many rely on users taking time to Stop, Look and Listen, and trains sounding their horns.
Simon Morgan is director of safety for Network Rail’s Southern Region. He said: “The driver of this train was so close to hitting this group of people, he had to stop and leave his cab to check they were okay.
“With the hot weather and greater numbers of people out and about, I’d really like to encourage everyone to remember to take care around our railway.
“We’ve made a lot of progress with safety at level crossings, including fitting hi-tech electronic train horn sounders to some, red and green lights and even closing a great many completely and replacing them with bridges.
“But we can’t get rid of all of them and it’s really important for people to always stop, look and listen, and stay off the railway in a place of safety until the train or trains have passed.”
A week after this incident, another near miss occurred at Seal level crossing, near Sevenoaks, where a woman ran across in front of a train, causing the train to emergency brake.
Rob Mullen, Thameslink and Great Northern train services director, said: “These near-misses left our drivers feeling very shaken. Someone could easily have been seriously hurt or even killed.
“Please, please respect the railway and use these crossings sensibly.”