USERS of a level crossing in rural Cheshire were reminded to take care after a van parked on tracks was nearly hit by a train.
It is just one of a number of potentially life-threatening incidents over the past year.
Gates have been left ajar by motorists and horse-riders using Barthomley level crossing, on the four-trains-an-hour Crewe-Kidsgrove line, at least 25 times in the last 12 months.
On Monday a delivery van left parked on the crossing was nearly hit by a London-bound train, prompting Network Rail to call for greater care.
Lucy Chadderton, level crossing manager for Network Rail, said: “Stopping a vehicle on a level crossing puts your life and others’ lives at risk.
“We’re investing more than £100m to improve level crossing safety across Britain, but we need motorists, cyclists, horse-riders and pedestrians to do their bit too.
“By paying attention to the clear user instructions at level crossings and avoiding distractions we can all stay safe.”
On Monday this week the delivery van driver opened the first gate at Barthomley crossing then drove onto the crossing. He then stopped, got out of his vehicle and opened the second gate to exit the crossing.
While his van was stopped on the crossing the warning lights changed green to red and the driver of the approaching train had to slam on his brakes so he did not hit the van.
The van driver not only put his life at risk but also those of the passengers on the train and its driver.
There are clear signs at the crossing instructing users to wait until the light is green before opening the gates on both sides of the crossing.
The instructions are then to get back in their vehicle, checking the lights are still green, before driving over the crossing.
Crossing users are instructed to then close the gates after again checking the lights are still green.
In the last year there have had been more than 25 reports of the gates being left open at the crossing by users in vehicles and on horses.
This could lead to children and animals wandering onto the track and potentially being harmed.
Passengers are also being disrupted as train drivers are stopping at the crossing to close the gates to help keep people safe.
For more information about level crossings or for anyone with additional questions or concerns, visit www.networkrail.co.uk or call our 24 hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.
See full story in the Chester Leader