Dead on the line

TRANSLINK and the PSNI have teamed up to issue a joint warning to Coleraine motorists and pedestrians to “think safe and stay safe” when using train crossings this summer or risk certain death.

As the number of incidents of misuse of railway crossings rises to ten a month at ‘hotspots’ in Coleraine and Castlerock, the transportation group has urged locals to be vigilant as it rolls out testing of its new high speed trains which can reach local speeds of 90mph.

Details of dangerous behaviour at Translink property came to light this week at the launch of ‘Deadline’, a summer safety campaign set up by the joint taskforce to prevent dangerous antics on train tracks, station platforms and crossings.

Each year during the summer period, incidents of pedestrian trespass increase significantly with 114 recorded last July and August alone. Additionally, a total of 121 people were prosecuted in the past year due to railway safety incidents and were fined a total of £13,000.

Lynda Shannon, Communications Manager at Translink said, “Safety continues to be a priority for Translink, which is why we are running the Deadline campaign. Many young people are oblivious to the very real dangers of ‘messing around’ near railway tracks.

“They are putting themselves and the lives of other rail users at severe risk without thinking of the consequences of their actions. The rules are simple, Think Safe - Stay Safe. Never play on or near tracks, stay clear of the platform unless you are using the train, don’t use the tracks as a shortcut and use railway crossings safely,” she said

The warnings also extend to motorists: “Don’t be tempted to jump the lights or beat the barriers at crossings, especially as our Class 4000 trains are being tested across the network in the coming months and travelling at speeds of up to 90mph,” she warned.

Head of Road Policing, Superintendent Muir Clark said: “Attempting to drive across level crossings as the barriers are being lowered is an incredibly dangerous practice which could kill or seriously injure vehicle occupants or train passengers.

“Most crossings have full or half barriers and traffic light signals. Drivers must stop behind the white line across the road when the lights come on. If you have already crossed the white line when the amber lights or audible alarm start, continue on through the crossing.

“If the barriers stay down and the red lights continue to flash after a train has passed you must wait as another train will soon be approaching. Please remember that it is only safe to cross when the lights go off and any barriers open. Police will not hesitate to take appropriate action against any driver found misusing level crossings,

“In addition, parents and guardians must reinforce the road and rail safety messages with young people, in particular how to cross road and level crossings safely – and to never, ever play or socialise near or on railway lines and stations, the consequences could be deadly,” he said.

CCTV is in operation at stations, railway crossings and on most trains. Translink monitors inappropriate behaviour and prosecutes anyone caught damaging property or endangering others.