January 2011 in Network Rail and Suppliers
A reporter is concerned about the behaviour of farmers in Kent - and sometimes other members of the public - who are frequently leaving open the gates of many user worked crossings.
In particular, the reporter highlights the issue with crossings between Grove Ferry and Minster on the Ashford to Ramsgate branch line. Some farmers are routinely misusing the crossings. The reporter believes that an attitude of complacency may be setting in with potentially catastrophic consequences. The main places where gates are left open are: Monkton Parsonage, Sarre Bridge, Gator, Sheriff Court, and Rough Crossing. Where a phone is installed, the proper procedure is to:
In many cases this simply doesn't happen. The reporter suggests that some action needs to be taken to protect the public at these critical road-rail interfaces, and asks:
Network Rail would like to thank the reporter for bringing their concerns to our attention.
Are the crossings mentioned being monitored
The crossings on this section of line are indeed monitored closely. Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) visted a number of the crossings jointly in this area at the end of September 2010. BTP have also been tasked to visit these crossings as part of their patrols. Mobile Operations Managers also routinely visit these crossings.
Are any of them under review with a view to elimating them
Network Rail has a policy where reasonably practicable to seek to close or divert level crossings. Network Rail has a team in place that activily pursues level crossing closures. In the last year alone Network Rail has managed to close 27 level crossings in the South East of the country, which includes Kent, however, none of the crossings quoted in the report are currently on the list of possible closures.
Could local farmers be educated on proper usage?
Every three years, all registered users are sent a letter, with leaflets reminding them of their legal responsibilities on how to use the crossing safely and also reminding them of their responsibilites with regard to visitors to their property who may also use the crossing.
Network Rail will write to and/or visit the users where misuse
Working with the police and the Office of Rail Regulation Network Rail will seek to encourage enforcement of the law and prosecution of anyone who abuses level crossings.