Oxford MailIs it safe? Rail crossing barrier ‘had failed 21 times’ (From Oxford Mail)

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Is it safe? Rail crossing barrier ‘had failed 21 times’

Oxford Mail: The Sandy Lane level crossing The Sandy Lane level crossing

THE Oxfordshire level crossing where a man died after a fatal collision malfunctioned 21 times last year, the Oxford Mail can reveal.

Thomas Pizzey, 85, was killed when the car he was in was struck by a Freightliner train at the Sandy Lane crossing in Yarnton, on Wednesday, January 2.

Network Rail had previously said the barrier was in “full working order”. But when we contacted the organisation again after residents told us they had experienced numerous problems, it admitted to two faults.

Now, after repeated requests for more information, the company confirmed the bridge had stopped working 21 times in 2012 – or around once every fortnight.

Network Rail did not explain the change in its figures. MP for Oxford West and Abingdon Nicola Blackwood has called on Network Rail to be more “transparent” and said she would be contacting them.

Local resident Alaric Rose, a Kidlington North councillor on Cherwell District Council, witnessed and reported a fault in November. He said: “I’m astonished. I think they really do need to look at putting a full barrier in there now.

“Residents are concerned, people are either diverting away or getting out of their cars to have a look before crossing.”

“On Monday, November 5, at 11pm I was turned away from the crossing after waiting for five minutes with the barriers down returning to Kidlington and was waved away by a Network Rail worker saying the crossing was faulty and I should find another route.”

The company said that “cabling issues” had resulted in two call outs, on November 5 and December 7.

Last night they did not provide details of when the other 19 faults happened.

An investigation into Mr Pizzey’s death is still ongoing, and has yet to determine the cause.

But people living in the area claim the barriers have repeatedly stuck in the down position, leading to some drivers attempting to drive round them despite the risk.

Yarnton resident Wayne Tilling, 49, said: “I have contacted the signalman myself four or five times having gone down there and found the barriers stuck.”

He said he and other residents had spotted motorists driving around the barriers when it was in the ‘down position’ for long periods of time.

Ms Blackwood said: “Following the tragedy which occurred at the Sandy Lane level crossing, I would expect Network Rail to want to reassure the public as much as possible that they are urgently pursuing every single avenue to ensure the crossing is entirely safe for the local community.

“I will be contacting Network Rail on this matter and I expect them to be transparent about the events surrounding the incident.”

Network Rail has insisted the crossing is safe, despite the repeated failures.

Spokesman Sam Kelly said: “The barriers at Sandy Lane level crossing failed safe (in the down position) 21 times because of infrastructure issues such as track circuit failures or problems with the signalling equipment which have an impact on the crossing.

“Level crossings are designed to fail safe if there is a technical fault to protect people using the crossings and trains.

“To put this into context, Sandy Lane level crossing makes more than 67,700 movements every year.

“This shows the reliability of the crossing is 99.97 per cent.

“As stated previously, the crossing was working correctly before the incident earlier this month.”

A British Transport Police spokesman said the cause of the crash was still being investigated.

Comments (8)

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1:29pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Quentin Walker says...

Oxford Mail: "Is it safe? Rail crossing barrier ‘had failed 21 times".

Yes, it is, as the barriers stay down when a fault occurs.

It may be inconvenient, but it is safe.
Oxford Mail: "Is it safe? Rail crossing barrier ‘had failed 21 times". Yes, it is, as the barriers stay down when a fault occurs. It may be inconvenient, but it is safe. Quentin Walker
  • Score: 0

1:44pm Wed 23 Jan 13

REJG says...

I have to agree with Quentin, if it fails and remains down then it is "fail-safe" maybe be more "unreliable" but still safe.
Never the less still a tragic "incident" .
I have to agree with Quentin, if it fails and remains down then it is "fail-safe" maybe be more "unreliable" but still safe. Never the less still a tragic "incident" . REJG
  • Score: 0

3:03pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Cllr Alaric Rose says...

When the fail safe incidents are so frequent, you are more likely to get cars driving around the barriers, which is most definitely not safe. And it happens often. If the barriers were full width, rather than half width, drivers could not do that.
When the fail safe incidents are so frequent, you are more likely to get cars driving around the barriers, which is most definitely not safe. And it happens often. If the barriers were full width, rather than half width, drivers could not do that. Cllr Alaric Rose
  • Score: 0

4:36pm Wed 23 Jan 13

REJG says...

Well councillor, personally,i would class driving around the barriers as dangerous...I still suggest the barriers are 'unreliable'
thus causing some motorists do make the dangerous choice to drive around the closed barriers.
Well councillor, personally,i would class driving around the barriers as dangerous...I still suggest the barriers are 'unreliable' thus causing some motorists do make the dangerous choice to drive around the closed barriers. REJG
  • Score: 0

4:41pm Wed 23 Jan 13

REJG says...

I'd say the fact that motorists make the decision to drive round them is the root cause but we all know that this is extremely dangerous.I would suggest replace the short barriers and replace with full width barriers and therefore eliminate the risk ....it really is that simple.
Are you listening Network Rail
I'd say the fact that motorists make the decision to drive round them is the root cause but we all know that this is extremely dangerous.I would suggest replace the short barriers and replace with full width barriers and therefore eliminate the risk ....it really is that simple. Are you listening Network Rail REJG
  • Score: 0

7:21pm Wed 23 Jan 13

John Lamb says...

I do hope the council also paint double white lines along the bad bends on Yarnton Road, as I and quite a few people I know have had very near misses here due to careless drivers crossing over into the opposite lane. I hope this wasn't the same elderly driver who kept stopping on the tracks to look left and right who I saw a few times recently.
I do hope the council also paint double white lines along the bad bends on Yarnton Road, as I and quite a few people I know have had very near misses here due to careless drivers crossing over into the opposite lane. I hope this wasn't the same elderly driver who kept stopping on the tracks to look left and right who I saw a few times recently. John Lamb
  • Score: 0

8:00pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Grunden Skip says...

REJG wrote:
I'd say the fact that motorists make the decision to drive round them is the root cause but we all know that this is extremely dangerous.I would suggest replace the short barriers and replace with full width barriers and therefore eliminate the risk ....it really is that simple.
Are you listening Network Rail
NO REJG, the root cause is NETWORK RAIL. People will drive along a road when the barrier has failed because it happens so often. If we do what you say and put full length barriers they will last only a fortnight as one will not sit there for hours when there is no train coming. The answer is for network rail to make their barriers work. Are you listening REGJ
[quote][p][bold]REJG[/bold] wrote: I'd say the fact that motorists make the decision to drive round them is the root cause but we all know that this is extremely dangerous.I would suggest replace the short barriers and replace with full width barriers and therefore eliminate the risk ....it really is that simple. Are you listening Network Rail[/p][/quote]NO REJG, the root cause is NETWORK RAIL. People will drive along a road when the barrier has failed because it happens so often. If we do what you say and put full length barriers they will last only a fortnight as one will not sit there for hours when there is no train coming. The answer is for network rail to make their barriers work. Are you listening REGJ Grunden Skip
  • Score: 0

9:27pm Wed 23 Jan 13

davyboy says...

If the barriers stay down, and no trains pass, you d not drive round them, but instead use the emergency phone to contact the signalman. Never pass flashing lights.
If the barriers stay down, and no trains pass, you d not drive round them, but instead use the emergency phone to contact the signalman. Never pass flashing lights. davyboy
  • Score: 0

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