HC Deb 09 July 1990 vol 176 cc94-7W
Mr. Kennedy

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list for each of the last 10 years the number of accidents occurring in the immediate vicinity of automatically opening locally monitored level crossings, specifying for each year the number of such incidents which involved(a) loss of life, (b) personal injury and (c) damage to property; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman

The following table shows for each year in the period 1979–88, the number of automatic open crossings locally monitored (AOCLs) on British Railways only, the number of accidents, and the number of casualties on both BR and other railways. The latter are shown in brackets. Where the information is available, I have shown damage to property. We do not have details of road traffic accidents near a level crossing, which do not affect the operation of the level crossing or the safety of a train.

The reports on 72 of these accidents show that the road vehicle driver failed to obey the "stop" road traffic signals.

Year Number AOCL Number of accidents Number dead Number injured Property damaged
1979 84 1 1 1 motorcycle
1980 107 1 1 motorcycle
1981 114 2 2 2 cars
1982 122 4 3 1 car, 1 bus, 1 pick-up truck,
(19) (4) (4) 1 dumper-truck (4 cars)
1983 128 4 7 1 taxi, 2 cars, 1 van. (1 car, 1 van,
(3) (2) 1 steam locomotive, 1 bus)
1984 144 4 1 7 1 lorry, 3 cars (2 cars, 1 taxi, 1 tram)
(3) (1)
1985 188 11 2 7 10 cars, 1 motorcycle, 1 lorry
(1) (1)
1986 206 8 9 7 cars, 1 van, 1 DMU train, (1 car)
1987 206 10 2 8 7 cars, 3 vans (2 cars)
1988 211 16 1 8 1 minibus, 15 other vehicles,
(1) (1) (1 permanent way trolley, 1 car)
British Rail 61 6 52
Other railways (15) (9)
Total 76 6 61

Mr. Snape

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the number and locations of uncontrolled pedestrian and vehicular level crossings on the British Rail system; whether he plans any discussions with the chairman of British Rail about additional safety devices at such crossings; if he will make additional funds available for the installation of such devices; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman

At the end of 1988, the most recent year for which detailed figures are currently available, there were 2,213 uncontrolled footpath crossings and 5,721 uncontrolled vehicular crossings, the majority of which are on private roads.

My Department's published requirements for level crossings lay down safety criteria for open crossings on public roads which are lightly but regularly used. Other vehicular crossings used by very low levels of local traffic are provided with user-worked gates or barriers in accordance with the requirements. The requirements do not cover private accommodation or occupation crossings which may be accessible to the public, but the railways

Of the other four, one accident was caused when a lorry skidded on ice, one was caused when a car drove in front of a Tyne and Wear Metro train proceeding slowly over a crossing as a result of a signal failure, two were caused by train drivers not following the set procedures for crossing a road when there is a signal failure.

British Rail is undertaking a programme of improvements to AOCLs in accordance with the recommendations made by Professor P. F. Stott to make the signs and signals even more conspicuous.

inspectorate and British Rail have agreed safety criteria for such crossings and a programme of implementation is in progress.

The inspectorate will be reviewing the use of footpath crossings with British Rail to define criteria for practical and cost-effective measures to improve safety. The chairman and I meet regularly; safety is his top priority.

Mr. Wilson

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list incidents involving unmanned level crossings, involving risk to the public, in the past two years.

Mr. Freeman

The table shows the number of accidents and "systems failures" at the various types of unmanned crossings during 1987 and 1988, the most recent years for which full figures are currently available, together with total crossing numbers. "Systems failures" are occasions when a controlled crossing fails to operate currently but no accident occurs. Safety procedures for failures, laid down in the authorising statutory orders, are designed to minimise risks to the public. There are, of course, no records of occasions on which crossing users put themselves at risk—for example, by ignoring the flashing red traffic signals which warn of an approaching train—but where no accident occurs.

Crossing Type Number in use Number of accidents Number of failures
1987 1988 1987 1988 1987 1988
Automatic half barrier 323 357 3 4 7 3
Auto half barrier locally monitored 1
Auto open remotely monitored 44 33 3 3
Auto open locally monitored 206 211 13 17 3 2
User-worked gates + Min warning lights 116 140 3 2
User-worked gates 4,004 4,919 15 12
User-worked gates + telephone 733 738 5 6
Open crossing 63 64 4 4
Footpath crossing 2,195 2,213 5 6
Total 7,684 28,676 50 54 10 5
1 Includes accidents on minor railways.
2 Figures for 1988 are based on a survey which updated previous records of crossings and for both years are for British Rail only.

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