After discussing the concerns raised over the weekend with the District Councillors for Barns Green, Stuart Ritchie and Tricia Youtan and received further details yesterday morning I immediately contacted the Chief Executive of Network Rail, Andrew Haines, and asked for an immediate response.
I received the below statement this morning.
It is reassuring regarding the specific alleged incident. However I have told Network Rail that I will be taking them up on their offer of a meeting to discuss this Level Crossing in more detail and will be broadening this meeting to include other members of the community.
“Thank you for your letter to Andrew Haines yesterday. I am responding on behalf of Network Rail in order to give you the full account of the reported incident as soon as possible.
Our operating centre can confirm as in your letter that they received a call from a member of the public on 10 May. This person reported that a train had passed over Barns Green level crossing shortly after they had crossed over the level crossing.
When the call was received from the member of the public at the level crossing the signaller on duty took the details of the report. They immediately imposed a caution to all trains travelling over Barns Green level crossing whilst the report was investigated. The individual who had reported the incident shared his contact details with the investigating team in case of any details needing further clarification.
The investigating team analysed the CCTV footage which showed the vehicle travelling over the level crossing from East to West then turning on to Valewood Lane which runs parallel with the railway line at this location. As soon as the vehicle had turned on to Valewood Lane, the level crossing lowering sequence began. The sequence operated as designed and the train passed over the level crossing within 40 seconds, this is within specification and is a normal operation for this type of level crossing. Approximately one minute later, the same vehicle is seen to return to the level crossing and the driver is seen to make the report to the signaller.
The investigating team then contacted the member of the public to clarify the sequence of events, this confirmed what had been witnessed on the CCTV. The member of the public was surprised how quickly a train passed whilst driving down the lane parallel to the railway line as they felt it was only a few seconds after they had crossed the level crossing which had been clear to cross at the time. They have been assured that the time for the sequencing of this level crossing is normal and after speaking with our operations team, understand the timeline of events that took place.
The conclusion is that level crossing worked as designed based on the evidence available. As you state in your letter, the concern of the member of the public who reported the incident, believed the train may have travelled over the level crossing whilst it was in the raised position. However the CCTV and event recording data demonstrates this was not the case in this incident.
The event logging system was checked to ensure all timings for the level crossing lowering sequence were within specification for the operation in this particular case. Finally a check of all level crossing signage and a timings check of the level crossings operation was undertaken. All the information as part of this investigation have been collated and a significant incident file has been created.
We take the matter of any safety issue seriously and we understand the sensitivity of the Barns Green level crossing. Andrew is fully aware of this incident as is the route managing director for the south east, John Halsall. We trust that this gives reassurance to you and your constituents. If you would like to meet John Halsall in order to discuss this matter further and what other safety measures we are putting in place then I would be happy to arrange this."