The Minister of State at the Department for Transport, Theresa Villiers visited Mitcham Eastfields level crossing on Thursday, 24 November to view the Railway Safety Camera Partnership Vehicle, a police van fitted with advanced technology to deter motorists and pedestrians from breaking the law.
Motorists continuing to risk their lives at level crossings by ignoring warning signs remains a serious problem and the Minister was given a demonstration of the industry’s latest investment in the fight to keep crossings safe.
The purpose-built, marked British Transport Police (BTP) van is fitted with nine cameras, each of which uses number plate recognition technology.
The vehicle allows officers to target level crossings anywhere in the region and to respond swiftly when misuse is reported by rail staff or members of the public.
The van was stationed at the crossing, where high levels of misuse have been reported, and where BTP officers worked alongside colleagues from the Metropolitan Police Service, the DVLA and First Capital Connect to educate drivers and pedestrians on the dangers of crossing misuse.
Funded by Network Rail, the vehicle allows officers to target level crossings anywhere in the region and react to a location where misuse is reported by rail staff or members of the public.
BTP Assistant Chief Constable Alan Pacey said;
“The education and enforcement initiative has been put in place to give officers an opportunity to drive home the message that running the risk at a level crossing is just not worth it. By trying to save a few seconds, you could end up seriously hurt or losing your life.
“The level crossing enforcement van is a useful tool in helping to reduce level crossing misuse across the country. In comparison to most other countries we have a good safety record, but misuse of crossing persists, despite our best efforts, and even one death is one too many.
“Incredibly some people are still putting their lives on the line by ignoring warning lights and sirens and trying to dash through crossings when trains are approaching. This is hugely irresponsible and dangerous and we will not hesitate to take action against anyone caught doing so.”
Martin Gallagher, Head of Level Crossings for Network Rail, said:
“Level crossing misuse remains a problem across the country, putting lives at risk, costing millions of pounds and causing delays for thousands of passengers and road users.
“Mitcham Eastfields is one of the crossings where we continue to see bad motorist behaviour and somewhere we remain focused on educating drivers about the risks of misuse and where necessary using camera technology to prosecute in order to change these dangerous habits and make the railway and roads safer.”
Speaking from the crossing, Transport Minister Theresa Villiers said:
“Accidents at level crossings can have tragic and life-changing consequences, so the rail industry’s efforts to tackle the key causes of this issue are welcome.
“The work the British Transport Police and Network Rail are doing to educate the public about the dangers of them misusing level crossings is vital if we are to reduce the risk of fatal incidents.”
ACC Pacey continued;
“We will continue to work closely with the Metropolitan Police and Network Rail to improve knowledge and, where necessary, to take action against those who continue to misuse crossings.
“Those who flout the law and ignore the crossing signs can expect action to be taken against them, which could be in the form of a fine or points on their driving license and end up in court.”