Tuesday, 26 January 2010

86% CALL FOR UPGRADING OPEN CROSSINGS WITH BARRIERS



86% CALL FOR UPGRADING OPEN CROSSINGS WITH BARRIERS

MSP REPORTS ON CONSULTATION FINDINGS

SNP MSP for the Highlands & Islands Dave Thompson today (Tuesday) published the findings of his Highland-wide consultation on the public's perception of safety at open level crossings. The announcement follows a string of recent accidents at this type of crossing, including the tragic crash at Halkirk in September which killed 3 members of the same family and prompted the MSP's action.

Mr Thompson distributed nearly 14,000 surveys to residents across the Highlands in November. Stretching from Halkirk to Dingwall and Fort William, a total of 2,483 consultation responses flooded into Mr Thompson's constituency office throughout the festive period.

86% of those who replied stated they would like barriers installed at open level crossings in order to adequately address public safety. 77% of respondents stated they do not feel safe using open level crossings. Nearly 800 respondents shared with Mr Thompson their personal experiences of a near miss or accident, or details of those they knew who suffered a near miss or accident, while using an open level crossing.

Mr Thompson will be presenting a report on the consultation results to the Scottish Government's Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson in a meeting on Wednesday to press the urgent case for barriers to begin being installed at open level crossings.

Commenting on the consultation findings, Mr Thompson said:

"Although open crossings represent just one in fifty of all level crossings in Scotland, nearly one in three accidents happen at them. When I realised that 21 of the total 23 open crossings in Scotland are located across the Highlands, I knew it was my responsibility as a Highlands MSP to do what I could to represent the local views of those who use these crossings daily and have to deal with the fallout of crossing accidents.

"After reading through the personal stories of accidents and near accidents, declaration after declaration that crossing users don't feel safe, and response after response opting for barriers there is no denying that something needs to be done.

"No one denies that accidents commonly come down to user error, but is that any reason for any more people to lose their lives? You cannot put a price on safety and I've got hundreds of replies from constituents stating they do not feel safe using open level crossings.

"I not only intend to present these findings to the Minister for Transport, but also Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation to push for the installation of barriers. If there were a 5 year programme of upgrades, averaging the estimated £1M for each installation, it would be a commitment of £5M a year for five years.

"That is not just reasonable, but a valuable use of tax payer's money and would also diminish the knock-on effects to our health services, police, ambulance and fire services as well as the rail regulators who all have to deal with the repercussions of a collision.

1 comment:

Dr Von √úbergang said...

Mr Thompson's report appears to overstate the levels of fatality on such crossings.