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close shave

Near miss at level crossing after closed barriers trapped car, report finds

The incident happened in Roscommon earlier this year.


A REPORT FROM the Railway Accident Investigation Unit (RAIU) has found that a crash between a train and a car at a level crossing was only just avoided after the car got trapped inside the crossing.

The incident happened on 31 January this year on the Westport to Heuston train at around 11.10am in Co Roscommon.

It was triggered for the barriers to start lowering to let oncoming motorists know a train was on the way.

The RAIU said: “Two cars approached the level crossing from the Athlone direction, after this initiation had commenced, with one car stopping on the yellow box area (Car 1), within the confines of the level crossing and one stopping close to the level crossing barriers.”

The view of the level crossing operator of the first car was obscured, but they could see the second car positioned near the crossing.

car trapped inside The car (circled) inside the level crossing RAIU RAIU

They froze the barrier to allow Car 2 to reverse clear of the crossing but then closed it down again, trapping Car 1 inside.

The train then went by with Car 1 inside the crossing, although no one was injured.

After the barrier went up again, the car sped away towards Roscommon. The driver of the train immediately reported the near miss.

The RAIU identified a number of factors that contributed to the incident.

It included that the driver of Car 1 did not stop clear of the level crossing and drove past the warning lights. As well as that, the obscured vision of the level crossing operator meant they couldn’t see Car 1 still within the barriers.

Because Car 2 had also encroached close to the barrier, it blocked Car 1 from reversing out before the barriers came fully down.

The RAIU said the problem was exacerbated by the lack of risk assessment processes for the position of CCTV cameras. It recommended that those in charge of the placement of CCTV at rail crossings should review them, to ensure operators have the clearest views of what is going on.

It also recommended that level crossing operators receive further training.

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