Safety at level crossings - Transport Committee Contents


6  Conclusion

77. Safety at level crossings has greatly improved in the last five years, with the statistically significant fall in fatalities validating Network Rail's claim of a 25% reduction in risk, relative to 2009. However, level crossings represent one half of the non-suicide, non-trespass fatality risk on the railway. We call on government and industry to adopt something analogous to the "vision zero" approach on the roads, with the aim of no level crossing fatalities by 2020.

78. The law relating to level crossings is in need of reform. The Law Commission has proposed a fundamental overhaul of the legislation, which we broadly support. Some detailed matters deserve further consideration and legal reform must take account of the viability of heritage railway.

79. The ring-fenced funding provided in the ORR's final determination for Control Period 5 is welcome, but Network Rail must be more transparent about how it will identify high risk crossings, which should be priorities for improvement. Network Rail has been able to improve safety by closing level crossings but further improvements may be progressively more difficult to achieve. The ORR should seek to improve its grip on overseeing how Network Rail identifies the highest risk level crossings, focusing on the assessment of risk and implementation of improvement programmes.

80. Network Rail has, on too many occasions, shown a callous disregard for the feelings of the families of people killed and seriously injured in accidents at level crossings. Victims have been erroneously described as "trespassers" or accused of "misuse" of the railway when, in fact, they have tried to use level crossings appropriately.[143] The lack of transparency regarding safety concerns at the Elsenham crossing was particularly shocking and raises profound questions about Network Rail's internal culture and accountability. Network Rail must now demonstrate that it has transformed the way in which it deals with people whose lives have been changed by accidents at level crossings.


143   Tina Hughes (SLC 020) para 2.5 and Q160 [Robin Gisby] Back


 
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Prepared 7 March 2014