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Thursday, 09 June 2011 (3015718)
Whistle blows on crossing dashers
by David Simister

SATNAV technology is being used in the battle to stop motorists from jumping the lights at West Lancashire's railway level crossings.

Network Rail said this week it has teamed up with satellite navigation provider Garmin to create a free downloadable app to help warn drivers of the dangers of level crossings in a bid to help bring down the number of cases of people risking their lives by driving across them at the wrong time.

Network Rail route director Jo Kaye said:

“Level crossings are a particular problem for us and we often have to stop the road barriers from lowering because somebody is making a last minute dash across. Pedestrians and cyclists are just as guilty as car and lorry drivers. Stopping the barriers in mid sequence results in delays to trains and possibly missed connections for passengers.

”Vehicles weaving round lowering barriers or speeding through them pose a danger to themselves and other road users and pedestrians. There is also a real possibility that they will collide with the barrier, damaging both the level crossing equipment and the vehicle.“

The technology works by giving drivers an audible warning - appropriately, the sound of a train whistle - as they approach level crossings across the UK, which Network Rail is hoping will curb the number of crossing incidents in the north west.

Last year British Transport Police highlighted the extent of the problem in West Lancashire and the surrounding areas, and named both the canal bridge crossing at Rufford and another level crossing in nearby Croston - both on the Ormskirk to Preston line - as being particularly problematic.

Jo Kaye added:

”Satnav technology has proved to be a great help to motorists in alerting them to what’s ahead on the road, so developing an app around level crossings seemed a smart idea.

“If we can reduce the number of incidents at level crossings we can save the taxpayer money and improve the punctuality and reliability of train services.”

The app can be downloaded free of charge onto Garmin nüvi or nüLink satnav systems from the company's website. Network Rail has also released a new clip of the dangers of misusing level crossings, which can be seen on our website.


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