People are dicing with death on the regions railway lines because they dont properly understand the risks, it has been revealed.
New research from Network Rail reveals a quarter of residents in East Anglia think crossing a motorway on foot is more dangerous than crossing the railway, despite the fact that trains cannot swerve out of the way.
This lack of awareness is causing more people to take risks, with only 33 per cent identifying that crossing when barriers are down and no train is coming is a risk – and only 21 per cent recognising that crossing when the lights are flashing is a risk.
The survey, carried out by Populous on behalf of Network Rail, reveals that although 89 per cent said that they knew how to cross a level crossing safely on foot, only 6 per cent mentioned 'stop, look, listen' when asked to list guidance on crossing safely.
The research comes after the News revealed last year that incidents of trespass on the tracks in Cambridge reached almost a five-year high – with police being called to trespassers every three days.
While Britain has the safest rail network in Europe, level crossings are one of the biggest public safety risks as 1,697 miles of track covering Anglia and east London directly interfaces with over 800 road and footpath crossings.
Since 2013, there have been 1102 incidents at level crossings in the Anglia region – over 15 incidents every month.
In the last year there has also been a 35 per cent rise in the number of incidents at level crossings in the region.
At 17 years old, Lucy Ruck was an aspiring hairdresser using the railway every day to get to college.
That all changed in a split second when she was hit by a train on a level crossing and lost her leg.
Lucy, now 43 and living in Warrington, said: “I was halfway across the track and literally in front of my nose was the train.
“I threw myself back, my left leg went out behind me and my right leg slipped out in front of me. Thats when I amputated my leg. It was found half a mile up the track.
“The train was going 65mph so Im incredibly lucky to have survived. My body went into shock so I didnt have any instant pain but my initial thoughts were that I was paralysed because I couldnt feel anything.
“I dream about running sometimes, I havent been able to run for 25 years. Its not something that haunts me but I dont like driving over level crossings, it makes me shudder.
“My message to young people at level crossings is to look; its more dangerous than crossing a road because of the speed, power and force of a train.
"If Id have been walking a little bit faster I wouldnt be here now, I would have been on the front of the train and Id have been a statistic.
“Nowhere is worth being on time if youre risking your life to be there.”
Rupert Lown, Network Rails director of safety for Anglia, said the figures are very worrying and show people are not always aware of the risks when using level crossings, therefore putting themselves in danger.
He added: “We are investing more than £100m to improve level crossing safety across Britain as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, but we also need everyone who uses level crossings to do their bit too.
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“A split second decision to ignore safety procedures can have life changing consequences for everyone involved.
“People risk their lives thinking it wont happen to me, but it can and it does and its just not worth the risk.”
To help increase awareness of the dangers at level crossings, Network Rail is leading a national safety campaign targeted at pedestrians during the summer months.
Network Rails army of more than 100 level crossing and community safety managers will continue to work with British Transport Police officers and raise awareness of level crossing safety across the rail network.
They will hold safety events, offer briefings in schools and encourage people to stay alert and avoid distractions when using the railway.
To find out more about level crossing safety visit www.networkrail.co.uk/pedestrians or search #BossingTheCrossing on social media.