Network Rail says 10% of Britain's level crossings closed

At this level crossing in Cambridgeshire, a cyclist dodged the closed barrier and ignored the warning signals

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Some 10% of Britain's level crossings have been closed since 2010 as part of a programme to improve rail safety, Network Rail has said.

Measures to improve crossing safety have also been introduced across the country, including power operated gates and electronic warning systems.

More than £130m has been spent by Network Rail during that period.

Network Rail said it would invest a further £100m and close 500 more crossings over the next five years.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) announced an increase in funding to close and improve level crossing safety in October.

At total of 10 people were accidentally killed at level crossings in 2013, Network Rail said.

BBC's Jeremy Cooke has been looking at a new level crossing which uses radar to improve safety

Network Rail managing director of network operations Robin Gisby said: "Reaching our target to close 750 crossings in four years is good news for Network Rail, train operators and of course the public, but we cannot be complacent.

"There is much more we can do to make the level crossings that remain safer and we will continue to introduce new technology, upgrade crossings to include lights or barriers where appropriate and work with schools, communities and other organisations to spread awareness of our safety message."

He added that closing level crossings is not straightforward "so we will need the support from local authorities, landowners and the public to help us achieve our new target and improve safety further still".

'Incredibly dangerous'

Tina Hughes, whose 14-year-old daughter Olivia Bazlinton was killed along with friend Charlotte Thompson at a level crossing in Essex in 2005, welcomed the closures.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the removal of automatic half barrier crossings, where only part of the road is covered by a barrier, should now be a priority.

Ms Hughes said: "I think that Network Rail should be taking those out, especially in places where there are lots of pedestrians, like at stations or near schools.

"I just think that they are incredibly dangerous."

Ms Hughes, who now works with Network Rail on level crossing improvements, said rail safety was an issue that had worried her "for a very long time".

She added: "It took until 2011 before people started listening that level crossing risk assessments were just not being done properly. Risk management was appalling."

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