Wales joins in appeal for more care on crossings

Several people stop on the track for a photo at Harlech.

As the COVID-19 lockdown eases around the country, Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) are warning people of the dangers of trespass and level crossing misuse after a surge of incidents, with several people caught risking serious injury or worse on camera.

During the summer months, cameras have captured dozens of incidents as people wander along the tracks or misuse level crossings by stopping to take ‘selfies’ or pictures of others, including their own babies or toddlers.

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 their children are closely supervised when in the vicinity of the railway and that the signage that informs a user to Stop, Look and Listen is observed. People who don’t follow these rules are risking serious consequences.

In North Wales, Harlech has been one of those areas worst affected, with cameras regularly capturing people misusing the crossing.

Other repeat locations in North Wales include Rhyl, Porthmadog, Shotton Low and High Level, Colwyn Bay, Holyhead and Conwy railway stations.

A young girl sits on the track at Harlech 777
A man leaves the level crossing and stops to take a picture at Stokyn Lodge, Mostyn 777
A man shows too much for a picture at Flint Marsh 777
A man sits on the track at Harlech for a photo 777
A woman takes a selfie on the tracks at Flint Marsh 777
A man stops for a phone call in Harlech 777
A youngster lies on the tracks while others take pictures in Harlech 777
A girl sits on the rails near Wrexham while her friends stand on the tracks talking 777
A boy jumps along the track near Wrexham 777
Two schoolboys wander down the track at a level crossing at Stapeley 777
Two boys wander down the tracks at Gobowen 777
Several people stop on the track for a photo at Harlech 777
A group of friends stop for a chat on the track while another wanders along it at Harlech 777
A group take photos on the track at Harlech 777
A group walk along the track at Harlech 777
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The worrying trend has seen BTP record 221 incidents of trespass and 67 incidents of misuse at Welsh level crossings so far this year – although the actual number of occasions people have risked their lives is thought to be much higher.

As well as causing risk to those involved, these incidents have also led to delays for passengers with more than 7,000 minutes of delay caused directly by trespass and level crossing misuse so far this year.

The warnings come hard on the heels of similar appeals by Network Rail and the BTP in Kent, where a group of walkers narrowly avoided being mown down by a train after they ran across in front of it.

Andrew Bound, Network Rail.

Andrew Bound, Network Rail’s Wales route level crossing manager, said: “We are incredibly worried about the spike in the number of trespass and level crossing misuse incidents during the summer months.

“Our cameras have captured some irresponsible behaviour and together with BTP we are urging people to not trespass and use level crossings safely – it is not worth risking your life.

“We will continue to work with BTP to warn people of the dangers, educate them about the consequences and hopefully keep everyone safe.”

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.”

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