Two recommendations to improve level crossing safety have been made to Network Rail by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, after a pedestrian was killed while using the Lady Howard footpath and bridleway crossing at Ashtead (Surrey) on April 21 2022.
In its report, RAIB said that the pedestrian was “apparently unaware” that a second train was approaching.
The 85-year-old woman was crossing the two-track ‘Portsmouth’ main line at 1449, having waited for the first train to pass. As it went away, it obscured the view of a second train approaching from the opposite direction.
The pedestrian, who was crossing with a dog and pushing a wheeled trolley bag, started to cross the railway tracks shortly after the first train passed.
The driver of the train involved in the accident sounded the train’s horn on seeing the pedestrian on the crossing. The pedestrian responded by hurrying forwards towards the exit of the crossing, but she was unable to get clear of the path of the train in time to avoid being struck.
The crossing had already been identified as high risk, due to a number of near-fatalities. Extra signage warning of this and CCTV had already been installed.
The RAIB recommends that NR reduces the risk from a second train approaching but being hidden from users by a previously passing train.
It also says NR should implement shorter-term mitigations at crossings such as this, which are awaiting long-term solutions.
The longer-term solution of miniature stop lights (MSL) for users had not been implemented owing to the complexity of the local signalling, although a new type of system under development (called Flex) is proposed to be fitted.
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