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14th Jun, 2021

Fright for Solihull couple as barriers come down on level crossing

Sarah Mason 24th Apr, 2021

A SOLIHULL couple are warning others to take care at the level crossing in Bentley Heath.

Angela and Tom Whittaker say they had to act quickly as the barriers at Mill Lane crossing started to come down while they were on it last Saturday, April 17.

Angela said: “When we got to the level crossing there was absolutely no signs of a train coming, the warning lights and sirens were off.

“As we reached about half way the lights and sirens started and we had move quickly and ended up ducking under the barrier on the other side.

“It made me wonder what would happen if someone less agile was in this situation.”

After this they watched the level crossing sequence and timed it to be around six seconds from the sirens and lights starting to the barriers coming down.

They contacted Network Rail, which maintains and runs the crossing, to raise their concerns about the sequence being so short.

The couple were told by Network Rail it had reviewed the CCTV and the crossing was inspected but they found no issues with the time order or sequencing of the barriers.

There are four barriers at the site which descend in sequence.

First warning lights start flashing and there’s a warning sound and the first barriers start to descend after a period.

“We revisited the crossing and I timed Angela walking at a good pace over the crossing,” said Tom.

“The first time it took her 10 seconds, the second pass took 13 seconds. On this occasion, the warning sound for an approaching train was heard when she was part way across.

“She experienced exactly the same scenario, the gates started to descend overhead and she had to rush to pass the barrier.

“Clearly a less able person or someone accompanying a child is likely to take much longer.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to hear of the difficulties faced by this couple using the Bentley Heath level crossing.

“This incident was reported to our control centre on Saturday morning and it was immediately investigated.

“A review of the CCTV footage shows the warning alarms, lights and barriers were all working normally and to correct timings when the couple crossed.

“We urge pedestrians and motorists to stop and wait when level crossing alarms sound and warning lights flash. Please do not keep going. Following these rules will mean motorists, pedestrians and train passengers all remain safe at level crossings.”

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