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Level crossing dangers highlighted

image captionTen cars were struck by trains at level crossings in the last year

Rail safety teams are to stage 100 events across the UK aimed at highlighting the risks of level crossings.

Nine people have been killed at them in the last year.

Figures from Network Rail also show that 453 pedestrians and motorists were involved in near misses and 10 cars were struck by trains.

Last month, Network Rail was fined £450,000 for safety failures after a woman died when a train hit a car.

Jane Harding, 52, was killed when the car she was in was struck at Moreton-on-Lugg, Herefordshire, in January 2010, after the safety barriers had been raised.

'Always a risk'

A signalman was also fined £1,750 for the incident, which the court heard might not have happened had Network Rail installed an automatic barrier locking system at the site.

Tuesday's awareness events will be hosted by safety teams from Network Rail and the British Transport Police.

Network Rail spokesman Martin Gallagher said: "Where a road or footpath meets the railway there will always be a risk. Tragically, for a few people every year, this results in injury or loss of life.

"We want to reduce the chances of this happening as much as possible."

Network Rail is investing £130m in making level crossings safer by building footbridges, adding new barriers and deploying new technology.

Mr Gallagher said that under the company's current safety programme, 700 crossings had been closed in the last three years.

'19th century solution'

"If we're not able to close a crossing, we want to raise awareness of how to use crossings safely and the risks associated with getting distracted or ignoring warning signs," he said.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: "Awareness and safety campaigns... are fine but as we have seen only recently they cannot stop the carnage that's an ever-present risk wherever rail meets road.

"The only solution is speeding up the phase-out of these crossings which are a 19th century solution in an era of high speed rail."

More on this story

  • Level crossing death: Signalman and Network Rail fined