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13 drivers spotted dashing through level crossing barriers as trains approach, in East Farleigh

In just two months 13 drivers have been spotted running red lights and darting through closing barriers at a level crossing in Kent.

The spate, committed between June and July at East Farleigh, has led to calls from rail companies for drivers to pay closer attention, with four incidents alone reported in four days, and trains delayed as a result.

More than ten drivers in two months have run through the closing level crossing at East Farleigh. The crossing is pictured here before it was upgraded from a manual system Picture: Network Rail (39876070)
More than ten drivers in two months have run through the closing level crossing at East Farleigh. The crossing is pictured here before it was upgraded from a manual system Picture: Network Rail (39876070)

In May 2018, Network Rail was convicted of safety failures when an employee was seriously injured at the level crossing, which was then manually controlled.

Signaller Doug Caddell had warned about the dangers of cars using the crossing only hours before he was knocked unconscious and suffered a broken neck in 2015.

The current system, with flashing lights and full barriers, is controlled by an employee from a nearby signalbox and was installed last year.

The crossing is on the line between Maidstone and Paddock Wood, and the road links the main A26 Tonbridge Road to East Farleigh bridge.

Network Rail’s route director for Kent, Fiona Taylor, said: “I can’t believe I’ve got to say this, but the flashing red lights are there for a reason- safety.

Network Rail was convicted of safety failures are Doug Caddel was seriously injured at the manual level crossing in East Farleigh in 2015Picture: Matt Bristow
Network Rail was convicted of safety failures are Doug Caddel was seriously injured at the manual level crossing in East Farleigh in 2015Picture: Matt Bristow

"There’s no excuse for not paying attention to them and the fact that some drivers are even swerving round closing barriers, when a train is on its way, is just astonishing.

“They’re not only putting themselves and others at risk but also getting a fine and points on their licences.”

British Transport Police inspector, Jonathan Pine, who works with Network Rail’s crime team in Kent and Sussex, said: “We take these incidents very seriously and we will prosecute anyone who runs through our level crossing lights.

'There are no circumstances where it is safe to go past flashing red lights...'

"There are no circumstances where it is safe to go past flashing red lights and anyone who has dealt with the aftermath of an accident on a level crossing knows how terrible the results will be.”

Southeastern and Network Rail joint head of performance, Dan Tall, said: “We are appealing to car and lorry driversto respect the red lights at level crossings, they are there for a reason, to protect drivers and to protect our railway colleagues.

"This also has a serious knock-on effect for our passengers as we are seeing trains being delayed as a result of this dangerous behaviour.”

Registration numbers of the offending cars have been taken, with details passed to the police.

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