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INTERIM REPORT OF THE

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					September 2006

FIRST REPORT OF THE WORKING PARTY TO THE NATIONAL LEVEL CROSSING SAFETY GROUP September 2006 1 Introduction

The accident at Ufton Automatic Half Barrier level crossing on 6 November 2004 reminded the general public and the railway industry of the low frequency and high consequences of an accident where road meets rail. Following this accident the Department for Transport held discussions with the railway industry and asked it to lead a review of the current legislative and risk management arrangements for level crossings in Great Britain. This report is the first output of this work and informs on progress made by the multi-modal representatives who are part of this working party. The working party considered the current situation regarding level crossings in Great Britain and their history. At the end of 2005 there were 7674 level crossings on the Network Rail Controlled Infrastructure (NRCI) and several hundred on other lines (eg metro, heritage and factory railways, other freight and private lines) in Great Britain. Level crossings are classified into three main types, those on public roads, those on private roads, and footpath crossings. The working party learned that level crossing risk represents some 42% of overall risk of train accidents on NRCI and that on average 12 people (excluding suicides) are killed on level crossings each year. This is in contrast to 3201 people killed on the roads in Great Britain in 2005. The working party felt that one of the major cultural and awareness issues facing the rail industry and its regulators is one of making level crossings ‘stand out’ to road users and traffic authorities. There is a considerable difference in the way people respond to, and the media report on, accidents which occur on the railway system, including level crossings, and those which happen on the roads. The working party considers that there is a need for a community of interest between the road and rail sectors and welcomes the fact that their work has helped to reopen lines of communication. The working party received information from Network Rail and the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) concerning the risks involved with level crossings. 96% of the risk involves misuse/abuse of crossings by motorists or pedestrians, the main issues being:     Failure to obey road traffic lights Vehicles weaving around barriers Vehicles colliding with barriers and equipment Pedestrians ignoring warning signs

The working party explored the main reasons for these accidents, which appear to be:

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Violations of the road traffic controls or signage Misunderstanding of the signage Complacency Underestimation of the risk

The working party’s conclusion is that the above factors are basically no different from those that dominate road accidents more generally. The working party reviewed the evolution of level crossings in Great Britain, the starting point being the construction of the first lines in the 1820s. The principle established at that time was that the railway was granted permission to build across private land and that the landowner was granted a right to cross. Where the railway crossed a public road at grade, a level crossing was constructed. The working party understands that there are many crossings that still conform to the Railway Clauses Consolidation Act 1845 or earlier, route-specific, parliamentary powers. By the start of the twentieth century the railway network was essentially complete and the large number of level crossings which existed was adequate for the amount of traffic on road and rail. Crossings were either manually operated with gates, or ‘open’ with no staff or gates. The usage was generally low. In the 1950s, government and the transport industry anticipated the delay that would be caused to increasing road traffic by these manual crossings. As a result, delegations were sent abroad to look at modern automatic crossings, which would reduce road traffic delays. The reports concluded that safety should not be compromised so long as road users acted responsibly. ‘With the introduction of lifting barriers at level crossings, and in particular if automatic half barriers are to be adopted, the principle must be recognised that it is the responsibility of the individual to protect himself from the hazards of the railway in the same way as from the hazards of the road.’ Level Crossing Protection, report by officers of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation and of the British Transport Commission, 1957. (McMullen) The Modernisation Plan of the early 1960s resulted in changes to many crossings, some being automated and others being remotely controlled from signalling centres. In the same period many lines were closed completely, reducing the number of crossings. In 1968 a train accident occurred at Hixon level crossing in Staffordshire, when a high speed express collided with a transformer truck which was being escorted by the police. A public inquiry recommended changes to the standard design of automatic half barrier level crossings.

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Since 1968 several hundred more crossings have been modernised. However since the 1990s modernisation has only occurred where a road or rail improvement scheme has been undertaken or as a result of unacceptable levels of risk at specific locations. The process of eliminating private level crossings continues, usually by negotiation with authorised users. 2. Work undertaken

The terms of reference for the working party are set out in full in appendix 1 and covered:       Legislation Level crossing risk management Land use planning Driver training and testing Removal of level crossings A review of previous reports on level crossing safety

RSSB formed a team of representative experts from road and rail to enable a full consideration of the remit and a list of the people concerned and their expertise is at appendix 5. 2.1 Legislation

The working party considered that the current level crossing legislation in Great Britain is fragmented, complex, in some cases outdated, and does not recognise the shared responsibilities of the road and rail sectors. It tends to result in a lack of co-operation between them. In particular, the process for closing or modernising public level crossings is unduly restrictive and long, the means by which rights of way can be diverted or extinguished are overcomplex, and the impact of later legislation such as environmental and disability regulations is not always clear. 2.2 Level Crossing Risk Management

The working party reviewed the risk management arrangements from both the road and rail perspectives, which differ considerably. The conclusion of this work is that whilst they are generally fit for purpose from a single modal perspective, they do not permit a holistic assessment of risk and efficiency improvement because neither process engages with each other. It is the working party’s view that level crossing risk should be seen as both a road and rail threat and opportunity. There is a need for greater convergence between the safety and economic assessment systems used by the two sectors to inform decision-making on investment, replacement or closure of level crossings. We believe that dealing with safety risk and road/rail congestion should be an integral part of any future policy or road/level crossing safety legislation.

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2.3

Land Use

The working party considers that legislation is needed to facilitate the closure or replacement of public and private crossings where there is a case based on infrequent use, misuse or for transport planning purposes. Any new legislation or change of policy should enable rights to be extinguished quickly and efficiently or alternative arrangements for road and / or pedestrian traffic to be made. The working party was made aware of examples where planning processes had allowed developments affecting private and public level crossings which materially increased the volume and character of road traffic. The working party supports the work led by Network Rail which seeks to ensure that the current planning guidance is properly applied to include a ‘competent consideration’ of the likely effects on nearby level crossings. Increased road traffic levels at level crossings, whether on NRCI or other networks such as heritage railways, can contribute to increases in risk levels and directly contribute to accidents. Further discussions on these planning issues need to take place and be informed by representatives with a deeper knowledge of the relevant policy and legislation. 2.4 Driver training and testing

The working party was pleased to note that, following close and effective dialogue with railway representative, the Driving Standards Agency has made some changes to its publications ‘Driving – the essential skills’ which are available to drivers of different classes of vehicle. The following is an excerpt from those manuals: other examples are shown in appendix 4: Level crossings (page 105: driving the essential skills) At a level crossing, the road crosses railway lines. Approach and cross with care. NEVER  drive onto the crossing unless the road is clear on the other side  drive over it nose ‘nose to tail’  stop on or just after the crossing  park close to the crossing Most crossings have full or half barriers, some crossings have no gates or barriers

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The following example questions are taken from the motoring driving test, supplied by the Driving Standards Agency: other examples are shown in appendix 4: Item: AB2393 Topic area: Road and Traffic Signs Mark three answers (Correct answers B,D,and F) These flashing red lights mean STOP. In which THREE of the following places could you find them? Option A: Pelican crossings Option B: Lifting bridges Option C: Zebra crossings Option D: Level crossings Option E: Motorway exits Option F: Fire stations Item: AB2596 Topic area: Hazard Awareness (perception) Mark one answer (Correct answer C) The red lights are flashing. What should you do when approaching this level crossing? Option A: Go through quickly Option B: Go through carefully Option C: Stop before the barrier Option D: Switch on hazard warning lights

The DSA is currently reviewing its publication Goods Vehicle & Bus & Coach manual for release later this year; it will contain more coverage of level crossings than is currently the case. The working party welcomes the invitation to consult on the current revisions to the Highway Code and has responded accordingly. The content of seminars and awareness courses for those who teach drivers and for those who drive large goods and passenger carrying vehicles has also been amended. The content of training towards the new Certificate of Professional Competence for these groups of drivers is also being developed and it is planned to include relevant level crossing questions. The working party believes that further work in the area of theory and hazard perception tests needs to continue with and that these initiatives should continue. 2.5 Closure of crossings

The working party noted that Network Rail as a matter of policy seeks to eliminate level crossings whenever possible and over 300 private crossings were closed between 2003 and 2005. The working party found that the process of achieving closure of private crossings requires the agreement of the authorised user(s). Eliminating crossings where public highways and other public rights of way are involved is difficult, complex and rarely achieved.

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2.6

Review of Previous Studies

The working party considered the outcomes of previous level crossing public inquiries. The object of this workstream was to determine the extent to which government, regulators, and the road and rail sectors had altered level crossing designs and management arrangements over the last 50 years. The review found a number of public inquiries have been convened since 1957 and that the issue of road/rail safety and road congestion had been reviewed in every report. Where the railway was recommended to take action, of a technical nature, those actions have in the main been carried out resulting in new designs of level crossings; the working party was pleased to see this process, although innovation and modernisation has slowed since the mid 1980s. What was not so evident is the extent to which the road sector (and government) adopted many of the recommendations concerning modernising legislation and the interface between road and rail. The most recent of these reports was one conducted by a sub-committee reporting to the high-level road safety group run by the European Commission (see last section of appendix 3. The working party notes the contents of this report but is disappointed at the apparent lack of action from member states, including the UK. 2.7 Conclusion

The working party has concluded that there is a pressing need to modernise the approach taken in Great Britain to optimise the management arrangements for level crossings from both a road and rail perspective. We believe that dealing with safety risk and road/rail congestion should be an integral part of any future policy or road/level crossing safety legislation. The working party is pleased to have had the opportunity to influence the changes to driver education referred to in the report but further work in the area of driver education and training should be considered.

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APPENDIX 1 WORKING PARTY TO THE NATIONAL LEVEL CROSSING SAFETY GROUP TERMS OF REFERENCE Level crossings present the largest single potential cause of train accident in the UK, after steps have been taken to mitigate and manage identified risks. The risk is primarily to pedestrians and road vehicle users, rather than train occupants. The risk arises principally from misuse by users, which may be deliberate or accidental. However, the consequences can be catastrophic and result in a multi-fatality accident where a train strikes a road vehicle, causing derailment. Fortunately such derailments are rare, but there were 24 train/road vehicle strikes during 2003, the majority of which were at level crossings. The National Level Crossing Safety Group (NLXSG) was set up in October 2002 on the initiative of RSSB, Network Rail and HMRI, to assist the owner of the network infrastructure (including level crossings; Network Rail) in improving user behaviour at crossings and thereby reducing risk and the potential for catastrophic accidents. Awareness of the risk at level crossings is also important when decisions are taken by planning authorities that may impact on the pattern of usage of a level crossing, and for those responsible for administering the law or dispensing sanctions against those who transgress. The NLXSG has created a working party to carry out a review of level crossing safety. The following aspects will be examined, following dialogue with officials at the Department for Transport: Level crossing legislation Legislation applicable to level crossings has become increasingly complicated over the years, as successive pieces of statute have been overlaid. Much of the legislation refers to road users. In some cases legislation for individual level crossings goes back to the original acts allowing the railways to be built. Crossing rights were often granted to landowners in perpetuity. There is no single body with overarching responsibility for level crossing safety, but there is a number of duty holders with responsibility for aspects of level crossing safety, e.g. railway infrastructure owners and maintainers (Network Rail), highway authorities, employers, train operators and crossing users (pedestrians, motorists, authorized users at private crossings and others). Their duties are found in different legislation including the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, the Level Crossings Act 1983, the Transport and Works Act 1992, New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 and the Level

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Crossings Regulations 1997, various Highways Acts and other legislation relevant to level crossings. The working party will consider the robustness and fitness for purpose of the current legislation. Issues relevant to the Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly will be considered. HSE Railway Safety Principles and Guidance, part 2, section E, guidance on level crossings, Railway Group Standards and applicable company standards. The HSE guidance was issued in 1996. The working party will comment on the relevance and appropriateness of the guidance and standards. Level crossing risk The working party will investigate how accidents and other incidents at level crossings are recorded, reported and apportioned by the road and rail authorities. The working party will comment on how the data assist in identifying and managing the risk through tools such as the level crossing risk model. Land-use There is a perception that consultation by developers and/or planning authorities does not adequately alert the parties to the risk at level crossings. This can lead to development near crossings that bring about changes in risk (eg trespass, potential suicide or other misuse) that would justify additional safeguards at the crossings or on the highway in the vicinity of the crossings. However the responsibilities for funding such additions are not identified. The working party will consider the appropriateness of agreements under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in such cases. The working party will investigate and comment on the adequacy and effectiveness of current planning policy guidance with regard to assessing the impact on usage of level crossings (including pedestrians and other nonvehicular users) brought about by changes to structure and development plans and the granting of planning permission or change of use. Driving Tests The Driving Standards Agency has consulted the NLXSG on the Highway Code (a new issue is in preparation) and specialist driving manuals. However concern has been expressed as to whether there is adequate knowledge of level crossings required in the practical or written components of driving tests.

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The working party will comment on the adequacy of driving examinations (including those for professional drivers, eg buses, HGV and emergency services) to test the required actions and behaviour when approaching level crossings. Closure of crossings Network Rail’s level crossing policy and strategy includes closure of crossings, particularly where practicable alternatives can be provided (such as bridges or re-routing footpaths to existing grade-separated crossings). This can produce benefits to crossing users, such as lower risk and less motorist delay. The working party will consider if the cost of upgrading level crossings, or providing alternatives when closing a crossing, is equitably distributed between those who would benefit. Review of previous level crossing studies There have been a number of reports in recent years relevant to the safety of level crossings, including: Obstruction of the railway by road vehicles (HSC, February 2002) Managing the accidental obstruction of the railway by road vehicles (DfT, February 2003 Safety at Level Crossings (EC DG Energy and Transport, December 2003) The Stott report after the Lockington accident (1986) Report into Hixon (1968) International Union of Railways Pooley Green (Network Rail) HSE report on Ufton Reports from Lincolnshire on Helpringham (Dec 2004) and Ropsley. Pools (Network Rail, 2003) Oppenheim, pedestrian crossings, early 70’s and other relevant reports The working party will review the recommendations of these and other appropriate reports and comment on whether and how they are being or can be implemented in the UK. The working party may wish to commission short studies to provide technical support in carrying out this review (eg legal or planning work, comparative studies with other countries). The working party will prepare a plan of its activities to produce an interim report including recommendations for further detailed work or for changes in the seven workstreams for endorsement by the National Level Crossing Safety Group. The working party will seek commitment for active involvement from the following organisations:

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Rail Safety and Standards Board Network Rail Health and Safety Executive, policy division British Transport Police/Home Office police Department for Transport (Road and Rail Directorates) County Surveyors’ Society Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety Driving Standards Agency The working party will co-opt or commission other organizations or individuals as it deems necessary, to provide particular expertise. The National Level Crossing Safety Group project manager will facilitate the working party.

17 January 2005

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APPENDIX 2 NOTE ON PLANNING AND RAILWAY LEVEL CROSSINGS RECEIVED FROM THE OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER ON 14 MARCH 2005 Planning legislation requires that the starting point for the determination of any planning application is the development plan. The statutory development plan comprises the regional spatial strategy (in London the spatial development strategy) and at a local level, development plan documents prepared by district councils, unitary authorities, the Broads authority and National Park authorities. The development plan must be in general conformity with the regional spatial strategy or spatial development strategy, and both levels of the development plan must be prepared having regard to national policy. This note is divided into three parts. 1. The national policy and plan-making framework 2. The process of considering and deciding planning applications 3. What Network Rail can do to engage in the planning process 1 The national policy and plan making framework

National Level National planning policy is set out in Planning Policy Guidance notes (PPGs), and more recently in Planning Policy Statements (PPSs). PPG13 sets out planning policy for transport. PPG13 is a high level document which articulates the Government’s key objectives for planning for transport which are to promote sustainable transport choices, to promote accessibility and to reduce the need to travel, especially by car. The references to rail are mainly directed at ensuring good integration of major development with stations and interchanges on the network. Regional Level In England, Regional Planning Bodies (in London, the Mayor) prepare and produce a regional spatial strategy (RSS) (in London, the spatial development strategy) setting out the strategic framework for development and land use for a ten to fifteen year period. These strategies incorporate regional transport strategies. Given the strategic focus of these plans, the main interest of such documents for those concerned with safety at level crossings will be in the identification of broad areas where significant development is likely to occur. Clearly traffic levels on roads serving such areas may be changed as a result of these proposals.

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Local Level Local planning authorities have to prepare a local development framework (LDF) which includes development plan documents and supplementary planning documents. The development proposals in these documents would be sufficiently detailed for an initial assessment to be undertaken, where appropriate, of the impact of any major proposals on traffic levels on level crossings. For example, if development options were being assessed for a large scale urban expansion, and one or more options affected a rail crossing, we would expect consideration to be given to the infrastructure and resource needs generated by such a development, and safety would no doubt be included in a sustainability assessment of the option(s), as would accessibility. 2 The process of considering and deciding planning applications

Consultation At present, rail network operators are consulted on a statutory basis (Article 10(1) (e) (ii) of the GDPO) on any development likely to give rise to a material increase in the volume of or a material change in the character of traffic using a level crossing. Circular 9/95 provides further guidance to ensure this requirement is not viewed too narrowly. It gives some examples of development to be covered:  changes to the road layout, eg for new estates, that may cause tailbacks on to crossings  construction of houses, schools etc that could increase the number of vehicles or pedestrians  construction of industrial or similar premises near to crossings where turning traffic, particularly large or slow moving vehicles, might cause tailbacks. There are no changes proposed to the basis on which the rail operator is statutorily consulted, although further guidance may be issued. There is to be further consultation later this year on amendments to the GDPO, and it is likely that the statutory consultation will be expanded to include all development abutting a railway line, but this will have little impact on level crossings where the existing legislation provides for full consultation. What the Local Authority can do in deciding planning applications Conditions The local authority can impose conditions on a grant of planning permission. The result of consultation with statutory consultees may well result in agreed wording for a planning condition. There are six tests for a planning condition: – the condition must be: i. necessary; ii. relevant to planning; iii. relevant to the development to be permitted; iv. enforceable; v. precise; and

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vi. reasonable in all other respects. It may be appropriate to impose conditions on a proposed development affecting a level crossing, such as conditions regarding road layouts, traffic lights, the timing of the development, and the size of the development. The conditions would relate to the development itself. Planning Obligations Planning obligations, also known as Section 106 agreements, are usually agreed between a local planning authority and developer in the context of the grant of a planning permission. Alternatively, developers can also submit unilateral undertakings. Obligations are intended to address matters related to a development, to make it acceptable in planning terms. National policy for England is set out in Circular 1/97 and ODPM published new policy proposals in a recent draft revised Circular (November 2004). Circular 1/97 contains five policy tests, requiring obligations to be: i. necessary; ii. relevant; iii. directly related to the proposed development; iv. fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the proposed development; v. reasonable in all other respects. The draft revised Circular proposes extending the first test to 'necessary to make the proposed development acceptable in planning terms'; and also proposes a new threefold typology to clarify the purposes of planning obligations as 1) prescribing the nature of a development; 2) compensating for loss or damage; and 3) mitigating the impact of a development. Measures to promote safety at level crossings would be most likely to fall under category 3). Local planning authorities can also set out policies in relation to their approach to planning obligations in Local Development Frameworks; and the draft revised Circular encourages public sector infrastructure providers to input to the process of making LDFs and to work jointly with other providers in doing so. For example, an LDF could identify a need to provide level crossing equipment if a sizeable new development was built nearby. Where a proposed development affects a level crossing, for example if a new housing development generates a significant increase in traffic crossing a railway, it may be appropriate to secure relevant measures through planning obligations, but these must comply with national policy in the Circular, including the five tests. Examples might include: the provision of extra trackside equipment, or new barriers where these were not currently in place.

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3 What Network Rail can do to engage in the planning process Network Rail can respond to LPA consultations on planning applications, and suggest conditions or planning obligations that might mitigate the effect of development on level crossings. Network Rail can monitor emerging plans for development proposals which may significantly impact on the traffic levels on level crossings. Where proposals are likely to have a significant impact, Network Rail could seek policy recognition that improvements to a level crossing need to be achieved in tandem with development. Network Rail does not have compulsory purchase powers as such. Railway construction has to be authorised by an Order made under the Transport and Works Act 1992. An Order may include compulsory purchase powers needed to construct that particular railway. In cases where public safety is in danger, Network Rail may use emergency powers contained in s15 of the Railway Regulation Act 1842.

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APPENDIX 3 NATIONAL LEVEL CROSSING SAFETY GROUP A REVIEW OF PUBLISHED REPORTS ON LEVEL CROSSING SAFETY ISSUES Summary There have been a number of major reports on level crossing safety over the last forty years: 1. McMullen (1957) led to the introduction of automatic half barrier crossings. 2. Hixon (1968) reviewed the risks and benefits of automatic half barrier crossings and recommended enhanced protection arrangements following a major accident. 3. Townsend-Rose (1978) looked at the virtual cessation of the modernisation programme since the Hixon report and what could be done to restart it. 4. Oppenheim (1983) assessed the issues confronting pedestrian users of road crossings, especially automatic crossings. 5. Stott (1987) reviewed the safety record of automatic open level crossings. 6. Lockington (1987) examined the particular circumstances of the major accident at Lockington and is complementary to the Stott report. 7. Tilly (2000) focused on the implied subsidy given to rural settlements by the railways’ maintenance of level crossings and made proposals for change. 8. European Commission (2003) proposed a number of changes to the classification and data at the road / rail interface and how accidents could be reduced. 9. RSSB (2006) this report, which is in preparation, will update previous work and make strategic recommendations following the Ufton Nervet accident of 2004.

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Background There have been a number of major reports on level crossing safety over the last forty years and this note briefly describes each of them in turn: 1. Report into Automatically and Remotely Controlled Level Crossings, HMSO, March 1957 (‘McMullen’) 2. Report of the Public Inquiry into the Accident at Hixon Level Crossing, HMSO July 1968 (‘Hixon’) 3. Report into Level Crossing Protection (DoT / BR), HMSO May 1978 (‘Townsend-Rose’) 4. Report into Pedestrian Safety at Public Road Level Crossings, April 1983 (‘Oppenheim’) 5. Automatic Level Crossings A Review of Safety, HMSO, July 1987 (‘Stott’) 6. Report on the Collision and subsequent Derailment … at Lockington Level Crossing, HMSO, August 1987 (‘Lockington’) 7. Level Crossings on Rural Railways, IRSE, November 2000 (‘Tilly’) 8. Safety at Level Crossings, European Commission, November 2003 (‘EC’) 9. Report into Level Crossing Safety (in preparation) 2005 (‘RSSB’) It should be noted that these summaries are of necessity somewhat subjective and that full details are available in the reports themselves. Regrettably, because of the dates they were produced, they are not available electronically; indeed the first of them (McMullen) has not yet been located although it is described in detail in the Hixon papers.

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1

McMullen

In 1954 the British Transport Commission Act allowed the use of lifting barriers at manned crossings for the first time, apparently the first substantial change in the statutory rules for level crossings for 112 years. During the 1950s there were three factors which created a need for a further review:    The enormous growth in road traffic and the serious delays caused by the operation of traditional gated crossings The increases in wages and the need for shift working which increased the cost of manning crossings to some £3,000 per year The difficulty of recruiting staff to man crossings, a situation which was temporarily eased by the closure of railway lines under the Beeching Plan

A joint working party from the Ministry of Transport and British Railways, led by Colonel McMullen of the Ministry of Transport Railway Inspectorate, visited France, Holland and Belgium in 1956 and they reported in 1957. The acceptance of the report led to a clause in the 1957 British Transport Commission Bill, which permitted the installation of automatic crossings. This was passed, and in 1958 a document called ‘Provisional Requirements … in Regard to Automatically Operated Half-Barriers at Public Level Crossings’ was published by the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation. The Requirements were ‘far more cautious and restrictive than those in force on the Continent of Europe’. The report concluded that:    There was a necessity for fundamental change Lightweight reflective barriers should be introduced The safety of pedestrians should not be overlooked but the dangers to which pedestrians are exposed on the roads are at least as great and certainly more frequent than those at level crossings … with the introduction … of automatic half-barriers … the principle must be recognised that it is the responsibility of the individual to protect himself from the hazards of the railway in the same way as from the hazards of the road Hixon

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After the accident at Hixon, in 1968, when a Manchester – Euston express train hit a heavy transporter lorry carrying an electrical transformer, and 11 were killed and 45 injured, the report by Brian Gibbens QC made the following observations:

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… level crossings protected by automatic half barriers are a valuable answer to the needs of modern transport and. are reasonably safe … their safety can be improved by certain modifications … some dangers may involve the possible derailment of a high speed train, with the consequent loss of many lives, while other dangers do not The more substantial dangers to be eliminated are those created by crawling and stalling vehicles, by the negligent and the criminal. Of those only the stalled vehicle cannot be provided against except at the highest cost. There is a clear choice to be made between full protection for the automatic crossings by means of presence detectors allied with railway signals, and a lesser degree of protection which will minimise, but not eliminate, all risks. Though full protection with complete closure of the crossing would eliminate all risks so far as humanly possible, it would do so at such great cost … that conversion of level crossings to automatic operation would cease. Almost all benefits to road traffic would also be lost, for there are more slow trains than fast, and the average times of closure of the road would be much the same as in the case of manned crossings. …the risks attendant on the abnormal slow-moving vehicle, and the negligent or the criminal driver (the ‘zig-zagger’) can be satisfactorily dealt with, and indeed, almost erased by other methods, the only case for demanding full protection would be in case a vehicle ... should stall on the crossing. ... to adopt full protection would indeed be a backward movement ... full or partial protection of automatic crossings by presence detectors was considered but rejected

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Specific technical recommendations summarised:      No automatic crossings where there are more than two railway tracks. Time cycles to be extended. Where the width of the carriageway is 40’ or more a dual carriageway should be created (to stop zig-zagging). Elsewhere, roads should be widened. Double-white line with cats’-eyes should be marked, with deflecting arrows.

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Addition of an amber aspect. Yellow-box markings should be more extensively employed. Strict attention to the (provision of a) level profile to (reduce) the risk of stalling. Special arrangements for dealing with special but occasional traffic problems (eg crowds coming from football matches or children coming out of school). Special arrangements for slow-moving vehicles. Consideration as to whether it should be made a specific criminal offence to use the telephone to send false information to the signalman. Changes to the wording of the Highway Code, and requirement that satisfactory knowledge (of this) should be made a condition precedent to passing the driving test. Use of photographic evidence from cameras fixed to the pivot post on each side of crossings to detect zig-zagging, and recommended the appropriate penalties. Need for sound education; distribution of leaflets, local publicity etc. Industrial design review of presentation of level crossings and changes to signs etc. (There should be) experiments with early warning systems. Changes to procedures at site meetings … to ensure that officers of senior rank from each of the consulted local authorities appear … Site inspections to be speeded up Install a strike-in mechanism to duplicate track circuits Need to reconsider when trains faster than 100 mph are introduced. Townsend-Rose

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Following the Hixon report, ‘progress towards automatic level crossings in Britain had come to a virtual standstill’. In 1976, the Department of Transport and the British Railways Board set up a Working Party ‘to consider ways in which methods of level crossing protection can be further developed in Great Britain, taking into account the cost and the need to maintain an adequate and publicly acceptable standard of safety – and to make recommendations.’

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Like the McMullen report, the members reviewed European railway practice, and made visits to Holland, France, Germany and Switzerland. They studied ways of simplifying AHB crossings to make them cheaper to install and maintain without affecting their safety; considered whether automatic open crossings should be adopted for use on minor roads; considered other forms of automatic crossings; how to assess safety and the problems of blocking back and road profiles; examined the signs giving warnings and information to road users; assessed the form a modernisation programme might take and what publicity and public education would be necessary. They made a total of 83 recommendations, a selection of which is summarised as follows:  Various recommendations about the use of the ‘Traffic Moment’ and other criteria for deciding on the appropriate level of protection at crossings   Use of traffic management systems on a cost-sharing basis between the highways authorities and BR Retention of yellow-box markings at certain crossings; use of cattle/trespass guard rails in some circumstances; no change to fencing standards Thirty seven specific recommendations on the particular arrangements to be adopted at the various types of level crossing including: o Gated crossings to be replaced at all level crossings on public roads o Various technical changes for MCB crossings with CCTV o A whole range of changes to AHBs to permit their more widespread introduction (there had been few conversions since the publication of the Hixon report) o That Automatic Full Barriers should not be introduced in Britain o A number of changes for Open, Automatic Open and MWL crossings      The Railways Board should notify the user and the Railway Inspectorate … regarding increased use of private crossings Continue … to reduce the number of private crossings Local Authority Planning Requirements should take account of possible change of use at private level crossings Twenty five detailed recommendations about road profiles, road signs, audible warning devices etc Proposals for a ten-year modernisation programme (covering) some 100 crossings a year

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That consideration be given to capitalising the savings in road delays at very busy crossings (and) that the attention of highway authorities be drawn to the potential savings in road delays so that the full benefits of these may be considered in bridging schemes Rationalisation of the Secretary of State’s powers for authorising modern level crossing systems That suitable legislation be provided to make it an offence to stop a vehicle on a level crossing Oppenheim

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In 1982, Mrs Sally Oppenheim MP was appointed ‘to review pedestrian safety at public road level crossings, and the report of the Department of Transport / British Railways Board working party on level crossing protection, published in July 1978, so far as it contains protection of pedestrians, and to recommend whether additional measures are justified for protecting pedestrians, what they should be, and in what circumstances they should be adopted’. Mrs Oppenheim and her panel reached three main conclusions:   …automatic crossings are no less safe for pedestrians than the gated crossings they replace …. …insufficient weight has been placed in the past on the natural concern created by automation … (and) … a much more determined effort will need to be made by BR to involve local people at the formative stages of a modernisation proposal … …pedestrians should be provided with more space, clearer separation and increased physical protection from rail and road traffic as traffic levels increase

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There were sixteen recommendations covering the areas of accident statistics; road signs; warning signals and signs; space and physical separation; special factors; consultation. They can be summarised as follows:     the Railways Inspectorate should review … reporting arrangement(s) for level crossing accidents uniformity should be achieved between the advance road sign for automatic open crossings and … for other types of level crossings … distinctive general warning signs should continue to be used a ‘stop here when lights show’ sign should be mounted at the threshold of automatic crossings

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at automatic crossings with heavy pedestrian flows, miniature red and green warning lights should be mounted on traffic light posts 4 feet above ground level the ‘another train coming’ … signal should be installed on the open side of automatic half barrier crossings where pedestrian traffic is heavy audible warnings at AHBs should continue to sound until road traffic is free to proceed several grades of physical separation for crossings with different levels of road, rail and pedestrian traffic should be adopted (markings; guard rails; manually controlled barriers as appropriate) (there should be) a higher grade of pedestrian provision at crossings where vulnerable groups of pedestrians are concentrated BR should inform local authorities of modernisation proposals through Chief Executives, before the first site meeting A new forum should be provided for all interests to express their views and concerns and for BR to present their proposals The content and presentation of BR’s visual aid material should be much more closely attuned to people’s evident anxieties There should be a firm programme for consultations and decisions Stott

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Following the accident at Lockington (see next entry, below) in 1986, Professor Stott was asked to ‘to review the safety record of automatic open level crossings (AOCs), to consider the lessons gained from the experience so far and to make recommendations to the Secretary of State for Transport’. Key points included:  … collisions between vehicles and trains at AOCs are at least twenty times more frequent than at AHBs for the same traffic loading; at traditional gated crossings and the most modern full barriers there are very few collisions. Collisions are almost always due to failure of vehicle drivers to observe the signals. The likelihood of a collision with results so grievous as those at Lockington is very small. Out of 250 existing AOCs on the British rail system, seventy four are likely to fail (this) test … where the probable fatality rate exceeds one in a hundred years. That would equate to an equivalent fatality figure of no more than 0.01.

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Specific recommendations:    AOCs should only be used if the traffic movement and train speed criteria detailed (are not exceeded). All AOCRs were to be converted to safer forms of crossing, [although one remains in Scotland due to special site circumstances]. The Stott report introduced a formula to consider the acceptability of AOCLs. [This is now appendix A in RSPG section E. Some AOCLs had rail speed reduced or were converted to another form of protection.] There should be an early programme of conversion (of the crossings where these criteria are exceeded) … lasting not more than five years Road signs should be simplified and lights should be made more visible Highway authorities should give higher priority to skid resistance of approaches to all automatic level crossings The Railway Inspectorate should commission research into economic means of deterring zig-zagging and reducing the danger to vehicles immobilised at AHBs The Department of Transport should …arrange for a review of … the level crossing environment The Department of Transport should review the present duties of railway and highway authorities in respect of level crossings BR should … improve … monitoring facilities at AOCs. Lockington

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In 1986 a train from Bridlington to Hull hit a van on an automatic open crossing (AOCR) at Lockington, and eight passengers died and 37 were seriously injured. The Inspecting Officer, Major King, referred to discussions he had had with Professor Stott, whose report was actually published first. Observations and recommendations included the following points:   …(the van driver) was in some way distracted and did not look at the road traffic-light signals … the message given by the (road) signals is inadequate for some (motorists)

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Some motorists, after seeing the red lights flashing, act in a most irresponsible manner … this results from stupidity, impatience, or a lack of appreciation of the hazards. … the most effective way to reinforce the message to motorists that they must stop when the lights flash is to provide some sort of barrier. At any level crossing, however protected, there is some risk of a train and road vehicle colliding. At Lockington … the geography led to a progressive derailment of the train. … the STOP message of the red lights needs to be reinforced. … national advertising stressing the significance of the road signs (etc) should (be undertaken by) the Department of Transport. … adequate guidance (should be) available to a police officer who may attend a failure at a crossing. … the Highway Code could be made more effective by increasing the pictorial representation of the level crossings … British Railways did not have a proper system for recording complaints … Tilly

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This IRSE paper was based on an MSc dissertation. It focuses on the question ‘Can the railway industry continue to subsidise rural settlements’ but generates conclusions with wider applicability. The paper states that level crossings:        Are expensive to install and maintain Introduce uncontrolled risks onto the railway system in the form of the public Introduce risks to the public, largely through their own ignorance of the dangers to themselves Cause delay to railway users … road users and pedestrians Are difficult to close permanently (Require) Level Crossing Orders Are ‘too difficult’ to deal with

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The paper reviews the cost of crossings, accidents arising and delays; the whole life costs of bridges compared to crossings; and users a questionnaire process to drive forward a number of recommendations. These are, in summary:   There is a low level of understanding of the Highway Code, even among Policemen, and the Highway Code itself contains inconsistencies. Over the long term, level crossings can cost more than bridges to construct and maintain, and this becomes greater when wider exogenous costs are taken into account. There are possible benefits from implementing modern electronic level control systems in the UK. EU report

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The High Level Group on Road Safety set up a group on safety at rail/road level crossings in 1999 and it published its second, final, report in 2003. The report was addressed to the European, the national and the regional legislators and executives in ministries, road institutes, road authorities and academia … as an input into strategic road safety planning .. implementation … adoption of guidelines and their implementation. The report made several recommendations to European Governments on the need for:          Availability of accident data to foreign safety offices. A common classification of level crossings. Crossings with an above average number of serious accidents … should be candidates for inspection and measures to improve safety. Safety inspection, where experts use a checklist, is a useful tool. Upgrading crossings with traffic lights and barriers as a means of reducing risk. Accident reports should contain information about user behaviour. Road and rail accident databases should be merged or cross-referenced. Enforcement of traffic rules should be improved and supported by awareness campaigns. Further testing and validation is needed for new and improved control equipment.

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Awareness campaigns should target risk seekers. Accurate and factual information should be made available to the media soon after catastrophic accidents, or even on the site. The number of level crossings should be reduced. In future, in vehicle information systems could warn drivers of a train crossing.

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APPENDIX 4 EXTRACTS FROM ‘DRIVING – THE ESSENTIAL SKILLS’ AND THE MOTORING DRIVING TEST Level crossings (page 105: driving the essential skills) At a level crossing, the road crosses railway lines. Approach and cross with care. NEVER  drive onto the crossing unless the road is clear on the other side  drive over it nose ‘nose to tail’  stop on or just after the crossing  park close to the crossing Most crossings have full or half barriers, some crossings have no gates or barriers Railway telephones (page 105: driving the essential skills) If there is a telephone you must use it to contact the signal operator to obtain permission to cross if you’re  driving a large or slow-moving vehicle, or one with limited ground clearance  herding animals Remember to telephone the signal operator again once you’re clear of the crossing Accidents or breakdowns (page 107: driving the essential skills) If your vehicle breaks down, or you’re involved in an accident on the crossing  get everyone out of the vehicle and clear the crossing  if there’s a railway telephone, use it immediately to inform the signal operator: follow any instructions you’re given  if there’s time before a train arrives, move the vehicle clear of the crossing. You may be able to do this by putting it in first gear and then using the starter motor. Beware of the engine starting suddenly  if the alarm sounds, or the amber light comes on, get clear of the crossing at once – the train will not be able to stop Tram crossings (LRTs) (page 107: driving the essential skills)  Look for traffic signs which show where trams cross the road  Treat them the same way as normal railway crossings  Remember: Modern trams are very silent. Take extra care and look both ways before crossings Overhead clearances (page 36: Driving: Goods Vehicles & page 61 Buses & Coaches) Drivers of any vehicle exceeding 3 metres (10 Feet) in height should exercise care when entering roofed premises such as  Loading bays  Depots  Dock areas  Freight terminals  Service station forecourts

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Any premises that have overhanging canopies

Or when negotiating  Level crossings  Overhead cables  Overhead walkways  Road tunnels  Bridges Electric cables (page 37: Driving: Goods Vehicles & page 63 Buses & Coaches The power supply conductors for railways and tramways on public roads will normally allow clearance for a vehicle of 5 metres (16 feet 6 inches) in height unless the signage on the approach indicates otherwise. At level crossings where the safe height is less than 5 metres (16 feet 6 inches), a height barrier will be provided in the form of a wire supporting bells. If your vehicle will not pass under this barrier it’s not safe to pass under the electrical line. You MUST obey the safe height warning road signs and you MUST NOT continue forward if your vehicle touches any height barriers or bells. Long Low Vehicles & Large or slow Vehicles (page 39: Driving: Goods Vehicle & page 65: Buses & Coaches) For drivers of long low vehicles there is a risk of grounding the vehicle at some railway level crossings. A warning sign is displayed, with instructions to contact the railway controller. The vehicle must be stopped where indicated, and a phone call made to the number displayed, or by using the dedicated telephone provided. The driver must follow the instructions of the railway controller, and call back once the vehicle is safely clear of the crossing At some railway level crossings, drivers of large or slow vehicles, which might take an abnormally long time to cross the railway crossing. The contact with the railway controller is the same as for long low vehicles.

Item: AB2393 Topic area: Road and Traffic Signs Mark three answers (Correct answers B,D,and F) These flashing red lights mean STOP. In which THREE of the following places could you find them? Option A: Pelican crossings Option B: Lifting bridges Option C: Zebra crossings Option D: Level crossings Option E: Motorway exits Option F: Fire stations

Item: AB2596 Topic area: Hazard Awareness (perception) Mark one answer (Correct answer C) The red lights are flashing. What should you do when approaching this level crossing? Option A: Go through quickly Option B: Go through carefully Option C: Stop before the barrier Option D: Switch on hazard warning lights

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Item: AB2630 Topic area: Rules of the Road Mark one answer (Correct answer A) You are waiting at a level crossing. A train has passed but the lights keep flashing. You must Option A: carry on waiting Option B: phone the signal operator Option C: edge over the stop line and look for trains Option D: park and investigate

Item: AB2778 Topic area: Road and Traffic Signs Mark one answer (Correct answer C) At a railway level crossing the red light signal continues to flash after a train has gone by. What should you do? Option A: Phone the signal operator Option B: Alert drivers behind you Option C: Wait Option D: Proceed with caution

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APPENDIX 5 CONTRIBUTORS TO THE REPORT The Level Crossing Working Party met on five occasions between January 2005 and May 2006. These included a visit to several level crossings near Doncaster. The core members of the group were; Aidan Nelson, RSSB Michael Woods, RSSB Wallace Weatherill, Network Rail Gilbert Fraser, Network Rail David Morris, Her Majesty’s Rail Inspectorate Bob Millard, Driving Standards Agency Brian Thompson, County Surveyors Society Terry Carter, County Surveyors Society Alan Davies, RSSB (Secretary) The following organisations also attended some meetings to discuss particular issues within the remit of the working party: Automobile Association East Yorkshire Motor Services British Transport Police Rail Passengers Council Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety Northern Rail Ltd other level crossing and safety staff from Network Rail risk management staff from RSSB

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