1 Introduction |
1. Nine people died in accidents at level crossings
in Great Britain in 2012-13: four pedestrians or cyclists and
five occupants of road vehicles. In addition, there were seven
major injuries, 53 reported minor injuries and 17 cases of shock
or trauma.There were
more fatalities in 2012-13 than in the previous year but the long-term
trend shows an overall decrease, from 11.9 fatalities per year
in 2000-2009 down to 7.0 fatalities per year in 2010-13.
Excluding suicides and trespass, level crossings accounted for
one half of the fatalities on the railway in the period from 2008-09
2. Although the safety record of Great Britain's
level crossings has improved in recent times, concerns have been
expressed about whether Network Rail is sufficiently focused on
protecting the safety of road users and pedestrians who traverse
them. There have been a number of high profile accidents for which
Network Rail has been criticised for ignoring prior warnings that
level crossings were unsafe and for shabby treatment of the relatives
of those killed.
3. In 2010 Network Rail committed itself to reducing
risk at level crossings by 25% over the course of Control Period
4 (April 2009 to March 2014), as measured by its own model.
We decided to examine how Network Rail was implementing this pledge,
in view of the criticisms of its stance towards safety at level
crossings in recent years. In July 2013 we asked for views on
the following questions:
· Are current safety measures at level crossings
adequate? How should they be improved?
· In addition to bridges and underpasses
what other cost-effective measures can be introduced to replace
or improve safety at level crossings?
· How should expenditure on improving safety
at level crossings be prioritised in relation to other demands
on the rail budget?
· Is Network Rail giving sufficient priority
to improving safety at level crossings?
· Is Government policy and regulatory action
by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) in relation to safety at
level crossings adequate? What more should the Government and
· How should the legislation governing level
crossings be updated?
· How should public awareness of safety
at level crossings be improved?
4. We have published over 50 pieces of written evidence
and heard oral evidence from a wide range of interested parties
on 21 October and 4 November 2013.
We are grateful to all of our witnesses but we particularly pay
tribute to Chris Bazlinton, Laurence Hoggart, Tina Hughes, and
Richard Wright, who spoke to us about the accidents in which their
relatives had been killed or seriously injured, and their subsequent
treatment by Network Rail and other bodies. Their powerful and
heartfelt evidence was crucial in helping us understand why accidents
happen at level crossings and the impact of those life-changing
events on the lives of their loved ones. We pay tribute to their
courage in speaking out. We also thank those relatives who contacted
us privately. We understand how difficult this will have been:
the information that was provided was crucial to our thinking
during this inquiry.
5. We also thank our specialist advisers for this
inquiry, Professor Andrew Evans and John Tilly, for their assistance.
6. In this report we begin by setting out in more
detail key facts and figures about level crossings and explain
who is responsible for them and for dealing with accidents. Our
third chapter examines the measures Network Rail and others could
take to make level crossings safer. Subsequent chapters cover
helping pedestrians and motorists to use level crossings more
safely and helping people whose relatives have been killed and
injured at level crossings deal with the aftermath of the accidents.
We offer some concluding thoughts in our sixth and final chapter.
|Box 1: Elsenham, 2005
On 3 December 2005,Olivia Bazlinton (aged 14) and her friend Charlie Thompson (aged 13) were on their way from Elsenham, Essex, to Cambridge. There was no ticket machine on their platform and they had to cross the railway to the other platform to purchase their tickets. After purchasing their tickets, the miniature warning lights and yodel alarm indicated that there was a train approaching. After a train had stopped in the station they opened the unlocked wicket gate and proceeded back across the line. They were hit by a Stansted train. In February 2007 an inquest jury concluded that the deaths were accidental. After risk assessments not disclosed during the inquest later came to light, Network Rail was successfully prosecuted for breaches of health and safety law and in March 2012 was fined £1 million. The station now has a footbridge and the gates have a locking system.
1 Annual Safety Performance Report 2012-13, RSSB (p179).
The RSSB notes that "Level crossing harm tends to be dominated
by a relatively small number of fatalities, so figures from a
single year should be interpreted with caution." Back
The mean fatal accident rate fell from 10.60 fatalities per year
in Q2 2000-2009 down to 6.75 fatal accidents per year in 2010-2013.
This fall is statistically significant. Back
Network Rail (SLC 007) para 18 and subsequent discussions with
Network Rail. The risk reduction is modelled using Network Rail's
Level Crossing Indicator Model, which uses ALCRM risk scores and
is periodically recalibrated against RSSB's Safety Risk Model.
ALCRM is described in para 17 of this report. Back
Oral evidence taken before the Transport Committee on 21 October 2013
and 4 November 2013 Back