Children are dicing with death by ‘playing chicken’ in front of approaching trains at a Doncaster level crossing.
Railway bosses have received numerous reports of pedestrians risking their lives by ignoring warning sirens and darting before trains travelling at up to 75mph at the Ferryboat Lane foot crossing in Old Denaby.
The catalogue of shocking incidents includes three instances where children have been playing ‘chicken’ with trains – staying on the line as long as possible before moving out of the way. The problem is so bad Network Rail has now taken the decision to close the crossing to the public from Saturday, August 16, in a bid to avoid a potential tragedy.
The move comes just days after a man was hit by a train and killed at another level crossing about 12 miles up the tracks at Askern on Monday morning.
Vicki Beadle, community safety manager for Network Rail, said: “Some people do not use level crossings in a safe way. This is not only against the law, but puts people’s lives in danger.
“I understand it can be frustrating waiting for trains to pass at level crossings, but please be patient, wait for the trains to pass and for the crossing to open and clear.”
Alan Davies, chairman of the European Level Crossing Forum, which organises the annual International Level Crossing Awareness Day, added: “It is clear and simple, stop at level crossings when the siren sounds, do not risk your life by trying to cross.”
Incidents reported since 2006 include children playing ‘chicken’ three times, three further near misses, one person on the track while drunk and others where horse riders have crossed at unsafe times.
Pedestrians are now being urged to use an existing footbridge over the railway. Plans are being drawn up to make the bridge fully accessible for disabled people.
The level crossing manager is writing to residents to gather details of those who are unable to use the stepped footbridge so alternative crossing arrangements can be made.
Network Rail said there were more than 300 deaths on the railway in the UK in 2013/14, seven of which were at level crossings.
The firm is working with British Transport Police to educate school children about the dangers of stepping onto railway lines. British Transport Police Inspector Tracy Metcalf said: “Incredibly some people are still putting their lives on the line by ignoring warning notices and trying to dash across crossings when trains are approaching.’’
For more information on level crossing safety visit www.networkrail.co.uk