MP warns of level crossing dangers after teenage girl involved in near-miss incident

Dan Fisk and Dr Coffeey at Halesworth crossing, the site of the near-miss. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Dan Fisk and Dr Coffeey at Halesworth crossing, the site of the near-miss. Picture: NETWORK RAIL - Credit: Archant

The MP for Suffolk Coastal has urged the public to use level crossings safely, after a teenage girl narrowly missed being hit by a train at Halesworth last month.

Thérèse Coffey issued the warning after visiting the site of the near-miss on the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft, which is rated by Network Rail as one of the most high risk station crossings in the country.

At the incident on January 20, a driver was forced to apply the emergency break to avoid potentially hitting a teenage girl who had started to cross as a train was accelerating from the station.

At the visit on January 26, Dr Coffey spoke to residents about the need to use the crossing safely, joined by Network Rail’s route level crossing manager Dan Fisk.

She also reiterated Network Rail’s responsibility to keep the crossing safe.

Dr Coffey said: “I know how much people in Halesworth value the crossing at the station, which is why I campaigned to keep it open. However, I recognise that Network Rail needs to ensure public safety so I was concerned to hear of the recent near miss.

“I still think clearer signage will help and Network Rail will be stepping up their efforts to encourage people to use the crossing safely. I strongly encourage people to take this advice, so that people who currently use the crossing safely can continue to do so.”

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In order to encourage safe use of the crossing, fencing and gates were installed last year at the end of the station platforms. These act as a barrier between pedestrians and the railway, and provide a timely reminder to people to stop, look and listen for trains before they cross. A sign attached to the gates provides advice about how to use the crossing safely - including a notice reminding users never to stop on the crossing.

Mr Fisk said: “Our main priority at Halesworth is the safety of people using the crossing and it was useful to discuss with Dr Coffey the repeated misuse and how to reduce this risk.

“We will continue to raise awareness of the need to use the crossing safely – which means not crossing while a train is in the platform, and this recent incident is a prime example of why it is so important not to cross when a train is within sight. If the current issues continue, we will have to carefully consider the crossing’s future.”