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–
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