Network Rail say motorist hit by train on unmanned Cambridgeshire crossing had NOT phoned signaller to check it was safe to cross
- Credit: Terry Harris / i-Images
Network Rail confirmed that the Land Rover driver seriously when a train ploughed into him on an unmanned level crossing had not phoned a signaller to check it was safe to cross.
The man, in his 40s, was using the remote crossing at Stretham – four miles from Ely- when the train hit him on Friday afternoon. The vehicle ended up in a ditch but all 105 passengers on board the train, though badly shaken, were unhurt.
The injured driver was flown to Addenbrooke’s with serious head injuries but his condition is not known.
The crossing is only used around 10 times a day and motorists wishing to cross are clearly warned to phone to check when trains are due and when they can cross.
But Owen Johns, a spokesman for Network Rail, has confirmed to ITV Anglia that no call was made.
“We were carrying out our investigations as a matter of urgency yesterday. They confirmed there had not been a call to the signaller,” he said.
British Transport Police said the train was damaged in the incident that happened at Nairns level crossing near Stetham just after 2.30pm. The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust was called at 2.34pm, and sent an ambulance, three ambulance officers, the East Anglian Air Ambulance and its hazardous area response team to the scene.
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Replacement buses ferried passengers from Cambridge to their Fens destinations as investigators tried to find out how it had happened. Many late evening commuters trying to get home to Littleport reported difficulties.
There are some 779 level crossings in East Anglia and earlier this year proposals were announced to close 130 of them. However the Stretham crossing was not included.
Network Rail admitted to being “acutely aware that the closure of level crossings in communities requires sensitive community and stakeholder engagement”.
NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay has asked Network Rail to details of usage at the crossings under threat.
Mr Barclay said: “I think constituents will be interested in these closure plans which could cause significant local disruption.
He also wants to know “what criteria will be applied when reaching a decision following the public consultation- how will Network Rail demonstrate that the public voice will not be overruled?”
Mr Johns said: “In Anglia, there is a programme to reduce the number of level crossings - if not we look at ways to make them safer. For us, the safest level crossing is a closed level crossing.”
Train services were affected until close of service on Friday forcing many to take replacement buses or find alternative means of transport.