Published: 11:55, 14 May 2020
| Updated: 12:04, 14 May 2020
Shocking CCTV footage reveals the moment two young girls and two men dashed through a red light and over a level crossing just seconds before a train passed through.
The group narrowly being avoided being struck by the high-speed service during the reckless act in Whitehall Lane, Canterbury, shortly after midday on Monday.
Network Rail released the footage today, criticising the men involved for risking the lives of the children.
Its regional head of crime and security, Gerardo Chiariello, said: "I’m really shocked by the attitude of these adults.
"I sometimes hear people talking as if trespass and misusing level crossings is something young people do, but these were people in positions of responsibility for young lives and they thought running across in front of a train was a good example to set.
“It’s absolutely crucial that everyone understands the dangers of the railway and how to treat it with respect.”
The day before the close-call in Canterbury, a group of dirt bikers cut the padlocks off a locked and bolted level crossing at Shornemead, near Gravesend, to access private property.
The crossing is kept locked with only authorised users having keys.
British Transport Police Inspector Jonathan Pine says both incidents could have resulted in someone being killed.
“Trains take a long time to stop," he said.
"From full speed it could even be a full kilometre, and in both of these incidents a single person falling over or off their bike could have been fatal.
“We’ve passed the video of the incident at Shornemead to our officers to investigate and I’d urge anyone who recognises the bikes and bikers to get in touch.
"This was one of the most blatant examples of trespassing we’ve ever seen, not to mention a risk to all the bikers themselves as they crossed the railway and breached lockdown rules.
“The Covid-19 crisis needs everyone to look out for each other and their families and these incidents showed a disturbing lack of any sort of sense of responsibility.
“We’ve also got a simple message: The instructions at level crossings are clear. Don’t ignore them.”
Jim Maxwell, head of drivers for Southeastern, says such incidents can take a mental toll on those operating the trains.
“Our drivers are critical workers delivering a very important service to get people who have to travel to, where they need to be during the current crisis, and don’t deserve the extra stress that these types of incidents cause," he said.
“Reckless trespass incidents like this can have a profound effect on our drivers’ mental health, particularly when there are younger people involved, and are further compounded if the driver has been unfortunate enough to have been previously involved in a fatality, with the potential to cause flashbacks.
"It often means that the drivers have to take time off whilst they recover, and are supported through their ordeal.
“I fully support our colleagues at Network Rail and the British Transport Police in trying to identify and pursue the culprits.”
Anyone with information about the Shornemead incident should text British Transport Police on 61016.