Transport Select Committee to hold inquiry into level crossing safety

Transport Select Committee to hold inquiry into level crossing safety

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) has welcomed the Transport Select Committee’s decision to hold an inquiry into the safety of the UK’s 8,000 level crossings.

PACTS’ call for the review was one of just seven recommendations among 113 put to the Transport Select Committee to be taken forward for its programme of activity into 2014.

David Davies, Executive Director of PACTS, said, “PACTS is very pleased that the Transport Select Committee has taken up our suggestion to hold an inquiry to safety at level crossings. This will put the parliamentary spotlight on one of most critical areas of rail safety. PACTS will do all it can to support the Committee in this important inquiry.”

David Morris, Former Deputy Chief Inspector of Railways and Chair of the PACTS Rail Safety Working Party, said “Level crossings represent the largest single risk of catastrophic train accidents on Britain’s rail network. In 2012, six people died at level crossing accidents (three in motor vehicles and three pedestrians). This excludes deaths due to trespass or suicide. It is entirely appropriate that the Select Committee should look at this matter.”

Issued: June 25, 2013

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Notes to editors

Committee’s inquiry programme.

Committee announces its inquiry into level crossing safety.

Accidents at level crossings

Britain’s railways have a generally good safety record. Fatal accidents at level crossings, however, continue to occur and remain a serious concern, in the UK and across Europe. There are between 7,500 and 8,000 level crossings in Great Britain. Level crossings represent the largest single risk of catastrophic train accident on Britain’s rail network. In 2012, six people died at level crossing accidents (three in motor vehicles and three pedestrians). This excludes deaths due to trespass or suicide.

Safety at level crossings is a complex matter and requires coordinated action from Network Rail, ORR, TOCs, the highway authorities, the local police, British Transport Police and other agencies. Network Rail has a programme of safety measures. In addition to traditional treatments (underpasses and overbridges), new technologies and safety management techniques are being developed.

The law governing level crossings is considered outdated and in need of reform. The Law Commission has consulted and, according to its website, “We are drafting instructions to Parliamentary Counsel for work on our draft Bill and expect to report our recommendations in the first quarter of 2013.”

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