I am writing to reassure your readers that the Barns Green level crossing is working safely after some concerns were raised recently.
Last year we suffered a terrible tragedy at this level crossing and our thoughts are still with the two victims’ loved ones. Therefore, we understand why the local community is rightly passionate about safety here.
Recently, we received two separate reports from motorists concerned that the level crossing barriers had stayed up while trains had passed by, or trains had travelled through without enough warning time.
However, after two separate investigations and reviewing the CCTV footage at the level crossing, we were able to confirm that the crossing functioned as it is supposed to, with road lights flashing and barriers lowered for a sufficient period before trains passed.
Therefore I thought I would write to explain exactly how the crossing operates to reassure local people.
Guidance from the Office of Rail Regulation says that trains should not arrive at this type of crossing in less than 27 seconds after the amber lights of the road traffic light signals first show.
At Barns Green the crossing sequence is activated by a train detector 1,039 metres away from the crossing. Once the train goes over this detector, the amber warning sequence begins and a train could then arrive at the crossing no less than 27 seconds later. Once the train passes the crossing, it activates another detector which triggers the barriers to raise.
Our railway is one of the safest in Europe, and level crossings are a key focus for Network Rail and highway authorities.
We recently announced the introduction of 45 red light safety cameras in Kent, Sussex and parts of Surrey at automatic half-barrier crossings similar to the one in Barns Green.
Early findings at four sites showed a significant reduction in the number of motorists passing red warning lights at level crossings. The camera at Barns Green has been installed, so that will also improve safety.
I hope this letter clarifies any concerns in the community and provides some reassurance.
We would always encourage residents to report emergency concerns by calling our 24-hour helpline on 0345 711 4141.
Vincent Van Der Hoeven
Route Level Crossing Manager, Network Rail, 2nd Floor, One Eversholt Street, London, NW1 2DN