At about 06:23 hrs on 21 March 2013, a car drove around the barriers of Athelney automatic half barrier crossing, near Taunton in Somerset. This took the car into the path of a train which was approaching the crossing at high speed. The driver of the car was killed in the resulting collision.
The motorist drove around the barriers without waiting for a train to pass and the barriers to re-open. The level crossing was closed to road traffic for longer than normal before the arrival of the train, because of earlier engineering work that had affected the automatic operation of the crossing. The motorist may have believed that the crossing had failed with the barriers in the closed position, or that the approaching train had been delayed. He did not contact the signaller by telephone before he drove around the barriers.
The RAIB has made two recommendations to Network Rail. These relate to reducing the risk resulting from extended operating times of automatic level crossings and to modifying the location of the pedestrian stop lines at Athelney level crossing. A further recommendation is addressed to Network Rail in conjunction with RSSB, to consider means of improving the presentation of telephones at automatic level crossings for non-emergency use. One recommendation is addressed to the Office of Rail Regulation, to incorporate any resulting improvements which are reasonably practicable into the guidance it publishes on level crossings.
Response to recommendations:
- RAIB will periodically update the status of recommendations as reported to us by the relevant safety authority or public body
- RAIB may add comment, particularly if we have concerns regarding these responses.