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Motorists still risking lives on Wem level crossing

By James Pugh | Wem | News | Published:

People are continuing to put their lives and those of rail passengers at risk on Wem's notorious railway level crossing, new figures have revealed.

CCTV footage shows a driver crossing the line despite the flashing lights

Figures show that since the beginning of 2015 there have been 14 recorded incidents around the crossing.

Network Rail, which has released the figures, said the majority of incidents were trespass, one of which was a case of a car jumping the lights to cross the crossing.

Wem level crossing

The crossing in Wem has previously been named one of the most dangerous in the country. It has also experienced problems since it became automated a few years ago.

Councillors and residents in the town have regularly questioned the safety of the crossing and have been calling for new safety measures to be put in place.

Previous problems have included a signal fault which caused the crossing to slam shut for three hours, causing massive tailbacks for motorists, including an ambulance.

Images at the crossing in Aston Street in recent years have shown motorists ignoring the warning signs and narrowly avoiding the closing barriers as they race across the tracks.

Wem level crossing

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In March 2015, the automatic safety barriers failed to close despite flashing lights warning of an approaching train. Network Rail said the barriers failed to go down because of a temporary road diversion sign causing an obstruction, and the train went through at a reduced speed.

In November 2015, strong winds caused the automated level crossing to stop working properly, meaning that someone was forced to lower the barriers manually when trains passed.

Members of Wem Train Station Safer Group have also called for a footbridge to be created over the town’s train station after two pedestrians risked their lives by clambering over the barrier while it was down across the road.

Wem level crossing

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The pair climbed over the barrier at Wem level crossing after a technical hitch saw it shut for an hour. An online petition was also set up calling for action to be taken to improve the safety at the level crossing.

Wem resident John Murray, who also sits on the town council, said that although technical problems with the crossing seem to have improved, it was still a shame people were still abusing it.

"It is very much an issue and it is not acceptable people are still doing this sort of thing. It is mindless acts of stupidity," he said.

"The crossing works in its own way. Network Rail has tried its best but it is not an easy solution because of the very nature of the crossing.

"They seem to have had fewer problems than they have had in the past, but the public should be made aware that crossings are very dangerous places, particularly with children in mind."

Bryony Parry, spokeswoman for Network Rail, said: "Britain has the safest rail network in Europe, but we can never be complacent.

"We cannot stress enough the danger cyclists, pedestrians and motorists are placing themselves in when they don't use a level crossing safely. A split second decision can have life changing consequences, not only for those involved, but also for their family and friends, train drivers and railway workers.

"Please – never take chances when using level crossings and if you have any concerns always contact Network Rail or British Transport Police. By paying attention to the warnings at level crossings and avoiding distractions, we can all keep ourselves out of harm's way."

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Chief reporter at the Shropshire Star covering north Shropshire based at the head office in Ketley.

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