Network Rail and Transport for Wales has today released shocking CCTV footage following two separate incidents in Harlech seaside resort last month.
Mike Leonard has been a train driver on the Cambrian Line for 15 years and has lost count of the number of times he has been forced to apply the emergency brake.
On Saturday, July 9 this year, the train that Mike was driving between Machynlleth and Pwllheli came within four seconds of hitting a man and his dogs on the Harlech Cliffs level crossing.
Just three weeks later, at the same location, another dog owner had a narrow escape after venturing onto the track after their pet – which was not on a lead.
Watch the video here:
Now, with the Summer holidays in full swing, officials have urged tourists to follow the safety advice when approaching level crossings.
Children must be kept close and pedestrians should follow the signs and instructions before they step on to the track.
Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times and pedestrians have been told not to run after their pet if it escapes their control and runs on to the railway.
Commenting on the incidents in July, Mike said: "I saw two white things on the track, I thought they were sheep.
“Then I realised they were dogs and suddenly this elderly man with a walking stick came up from the beach and just stepped out in front of the train, too.
"The dogs weren’t on a lead and the man didn’t even look as he crossed. I was about four seconds away from hitting him."
Mike is one of many rail industry workers who have had to take time off work after witnessing a near miss or fatality on the job.
He said incidents like this can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.
“The impact of these incidents, especially fatalities of this kind, reach further than people think," the 54-year-old said.
“You sometimes go blank, and you keep on thinking about it – the ‘what ifs’ really play on your mind. The more instances you have, it’s like you’ve had enough, it can be depressing.
“In that moment you’re actually helpless.
“You put the brake into emergency, you blow the horn, and it’s out of your hands. The train stops when it stops. You just watch everything unfolding in front of you. It’s like it all just slows down.
“I have had around six instances I would call very bad near misses, where people have been seconds away from being hit by the train.
"One time involved two school children near Shrewsbury where one was dancing on the track, purposely misusing the level crossing – recklessly risking their life.”
There are around 300 different level crossings between Dovey Junction and Pwllheli alone – with more than 1,000 across the whole of Wales.
There are many different types – some with lights, some with barriers and some with signs with vital safety information for those using a crossing.
Phil Caldwell, Network Rail’s level crossing manager for Harlech, said: “This truly is a beautiful area to visit, and very popular with tourists, but railways are very dangerous places.
“There are around 300 different level crossings between Dovey Junction and Pwllheli alone - so everyone needs to stay vigilant and alert when near the railway.
“Please let your memories be happy ones and not marred by the loss of your beloved pet or worse.”