Pedestrian hit by Kirknewton level crossing – call (again) for a footbridge to be re-instated

12 January, 2015, a lady pedestrian was on her way over Kirknewton Level Crossing when the lights started to flash.

Before she was able to get fully over, the barrier dropped and hit her hard–see the video of the barrier stopping–, and trapped her inside the crossing.

She managed to escape by going to the middle of the road and, as the barriers were being pushed aside to let her out, the road one lifted again.

There is no safety edge or mechanism on the barrier to stop this happening. Another person,child, pram, wheelchair, or infirm-could be easily caught and injured by this anytime. The barrier closing allows less time for pedestrians to cross than it does for cars.

9 days later– Network Rail have not even been to see her or take any details.

Network Rail are apparently not even required to report this incident and injury to the Health and Safety people for the Railways–Office of the Rail Regulator.

Network Rail are happy that the furthest away barrier will rise to let a pedestrian out (in the centre of the roadway)–even if they are in a wheelchair or on crutches, or with a pram, and they have to go back down the ramp onto the tracks to get to the middle of the road. The pedestrian barrier will not lift to let a pedestrian out.

Since the removal of the footbridge and installation of the first barrier crossing, there have been many accidents and a death–none of these need have occurred if the old gates were still there, and the footbridge not removed.

Currently the crossing can be closed for up to 20 minutes as a selection of fast, slow, and deliberately delayed local trains pass through. Passengers and pedestrians and road traffic have to wait in the rain and snow for a chance to cross.

When the crossing fails for any reason, it closes. The alternative route is a 3 to 4 mile walk along roads which have no street lighting or footpaths on much of them–, including the A71. Since crossing closures have been 4 hours at times, passengers wanting to get to the car park, or from the car park to the westbound platform, cannot catch trains or get home. Locals cannot get home either.

The unannounced removal of the footbridge was a slick move in the past, (by Network Rail and their predecessors) to simply save themselves money, and has been followed by many accidents prior to this one Many other stations had their footbridges raised to allow electric lines through. Kirknewton was left to face all the unnecessary accidents.

The most recent crossing ”upgrade’ was required due to the safety record of the old one–and it is still obviously unsafe and unfit for it’s purpose.

If you want to give your experiences about this crossing, or have information on any other incidents–since Network rail do not report them– support us in getting the crossing made safer–and you can contact the following as well–

Network Rail

Simon Constable BSc (Hons)

Operations Risk Advisor Scotland

Network Rail, 151 St Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5NJ. Telephone 0141 555 4075 or 07771 672701

and the Railway Health and Safety office–

David Whitmarsh, CMIOSH H.M Inspector of Railways Scotland Route Team Office of Rail Regulation | Tara House | 46 Bath Street | Glasgow | G2 1HG


  1. I am concerned as to the crossing of emergency vehicles, while traveling by bus on Wednesday 28th January there was a delay of around five or more minutes within this queue of traffic was a fire engine with blue lights flashing, peoples lives are being put at risk in several ways by this dangerous unreliable traffic crossing.

    As residents of Kirknewton my family and demand that a footbridge be erected as an alternative safe method of crossing plus methods for allowing emergency vehicles access to cross in an emergency situation.


    Robina Thomas and Kevin Robb

  2. When it comes to the Kirknewton crossing Network Rail seem to be running with the old technique of making the lie simple, making it big, and repeating it often in order to progress the interests of their cronies…

    There is no whisper of a doubt in my mind that the delays and safety issues at this crossing are being artificially manufactured by those with political and financial interests in creating a problem. – Just one symptom of a wider mentality wherein our public services are no longer that, but fiefdoms granted to those whose ‘faithers were well kent’ and are able to present the necessary ‘funny handshakes’ and well stuffed brown envelopes. – In my experience this is what makes much of West Lothian, and beyond for that matter, tick…

    Let’s not forget the root of the issue here – Network Rail Mandarins had plans to line the pockets of their cronies which the village rejected. Kirknewton is quite simply being ‘punished’ for daring to thwart that which would have made a clique of contractors and their ‘hingers oan’ a nice ‘skin’ from the public purse…

    Before the double barriers went up the crossing opened and closed quickly enough and it really presented no particular delays. – We’re seriously expected to believe that a new ‘hi tech’ crossing is of necessity many times poorer in performance than something that was decades old?

    If anyone would like to own up now to having moored a giant Banana skin at the Broomielaw I’m sure the rest would be most grateful; Network Rail and their pals would do well to note though that most of us didn’t paddle up the Clyde in it! And they’re not actually fooling many of the people for much of the time!

    Robina’s concerns about emergency vehicle access are also well placed. A 1/4 century ago – before I handed in my warrant card – we had NO difficulty working with BR. Is it really beyond the ken of Network Rail today to co-ordinate with the despatchers? Particularly where Ambulance and Fire services are concerned!

    Likewise, when it comes to obviating the danger of someone becoming trapped in the crossing as nearly happened in this incident; non-contact obstruction detectors are not a new, expensive or obscure technology… Network Rail’s technical staff might be amazed if they were to examine the barriers in the average car park or even examine the wroks of an automatic car wash… And yes these detectors DO detect something as small as a toddler on a pavement bike…

    Factually, it is a fairly basic piece of programming logic that would use the output from such detectors to sequence the gates so that a pedestrian or vehicle cannot be trapped by them. And if Network Rail’s engineers are unable to solve this particular problem then I’m pretty sure any first-year Mechatronics student at any one of Scotland’s technical colleges could solve the puzzle for them!

    Similarly, common sense tells you that footbridges are an essential, not high tech or particularly expensive… An essential! Network Rails ‘excuses’ in this respect are quite simply ridiculous!

    I lay the charge squarely at the feet of both Network Rail and our politicos (from council level to Holyrood alike – they all seem to be only interested in keeping their noses in the trough) that they are wilfully creating an unsafe situation here the entire purpose of which is to promote the lie that the level crossing is inherently unsafe and cannot be made safe… By this means they seek to raise again the spectre of their (extremely expensive and not wanted) tunnel again – something that will make certain people very wealthy!

    The inherently corrupt nature of that tactic is bad enough and wholly unacceptable. But the fact that people’s lives are being put at risk raises this wee game to a level I can only describe as sinister!

  3. Well done Matt Quinn, I have lived in Kirknewton since 1989 and found the old crossing operated well enough without the backlog of traffic at both sides that now ensues and causing a potential danger to School Children attending at School hours. All this appears to be ignored by Network Rail. Edward Downie.

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