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Near miss at Broad Oak level crossing in Canterbury after barriers remained up as train approached

By KentOnline reporter

Vehicles continued to cross a level crossing in Canterbury as a train approached in what investigators have concluded was a “dangerous occurrence”.

An official probe has discovered that the barriers at Broad Oak level crossing remained up as the train from Sturry travelled towards Canterbury West.

It found that the train driver had to break sharply when he realised the barriers were up and managed only to stop on the crossing itself.

A car going over the crossing as the train approaches.

A car going over the crossing as the train approaches.

There was no collision, but investigators have concluded that the incident happened because the barriers were supposed to be manned by a Network Rail maintenance crew which had taken control of the crossing while they repaired signals.

The incident, which took place at 10.20am on June 29, was investigated by the government’s Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) which concluded it was a “dangerous occurrence”. 

It found that the train’s driver realised the barriers were still up shortly after leaving Sturry and tooted his horn for six seconds.

The level crossing barriers are still up as the train arrives at the crossing.

The level crossing barriers are still up as the train arrives at the crossing.

“At the time of the incident the level crossing was under the control of a Network Rail mobile operations manager,” the RAIB report stated.

“When he heard the approaching train he operated a switch to start the sequence to lower the barriers.

"The level crossing’s amber road traffic signals illuminated about three seconds before the train arrived and its red road traffic signals started to flash as the train arrived at the crossing while travelling at 17 mph. 

Lay-out of the Broad Oak level crossing, an automatic half barrier (AHB).

Lay-out of the Broad Oak level crossing, an automatic half barrier (AHB).

“The barriers started to lower five seconds later, just as the train stopped on the level crossing. Road vehicles that were approaching the level crossing at the time also stopped.

"There was no collision, but the train driver was shaken by what had happened.”

The RAIB has recommended that communications between those who ordinarily operate the signals and maintenance crews working on the ground.

The Broad Oak level crossing's barriers did not come down despite a train approaching.

The Broad Oak level crossing's barriers did not come down despite a train approaching.

It called for better training for maintenance crews operating signals who should also put up red flags or lights so drivers can see that the barriers are being operated on the ground.

Andy Derbyshire, Network Rail’s chief operating officer for the South East, said: "As soon as the incident happened, the signaller involved was removed from safety critical duties to allow them to support the immediate investigation and complete re-training, specifically surrounding the correct procedures associated with track works at level crossings.

"Our internal findings indicate that that this appears to be an isolated incident, however, safety is our priority at Network Rail and we are always looking to improve the way we work and keep our spot as the safest railway in Europe."

Network Rail adds that it is still carrying out its own investigation into the incident.

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