WATCH: Shocking video of children endangering their lives at St Albans level crossing

PUBLISHED: 10:43 31 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:59 06 September 2017

Teenagers misusing the Cottonmill level crossing. Picture: Network Rail CCTV

Teenagers misusing the Cottonmill level crossing. Picture: Network Rail CCTV


A shocking video of children endangering their lives at a dangerous and controversial St Albans level crossing has been released.

In the footage, teenagers can be seen rushing across in front of a train, playing on the tracks, and deliberately standing still in front of an approaching train.

Earlier this year a group of youngsters deliberately misused the Cottonmill level crossing and a train very nearly killed them.

That particular crossing has been subject to much debate - over a nine-day monitoring period there were four near-misses and more than 300 incidents of calculated misuse.

In 2015, Network Rail responded by closing the crossing, but reopened it three weeks later after bowing to pressure from Herts county council and local residents.

It is a popular passing place, with more than 1000 people passing over the line every day, but there are also about 60 trains travelling between Albans Abbey and Watford Junction at the same time.

This video is the latest in a series of repeated pleas from Network Rail for users to be careful on the junction.

Network Rail’s head of safety for the London North Western route, Priti Patel, said: “We are concerned about repeated dangerous behaviour at Cottonmill level crossing and the number of near misses that have been recorded.

“We cannot stress enough the danger cyclists, pedestrians and motorists are placing themselves in when they don’t use a crossing safely. A split second decision can have life changing consequences, not only for those involved, but also for their family and friends, train drivers and railway workers.”

She implored users to “never take chances” on level crossings.

British Transport Police’s Insp Becky Warren, said the children in the video were “lucky” to be “unscathed”: “Sadly there are people who have not been as fortunate, and I have had the heart-breaking job of telling families that their loved one has been killed at crossings or on the tracks.

“Despite our constant warnings about using crossings safely and the dangers of the railway, incredibly some people are still willing to put their lives on the line by ignoring crossing instructions, not looking properly or by trying to dash across crossings when trains are approaching.

“Most accidents are as a result of impatience, not being prepared to wait, and trying to beat the train.

“People risk their lives thinking it won’t happen to me, but it can and it does and it’s simply not worth the risk.”

Network Rail is currently working with the local council to find an alternative to a level crossing at this site, and St Albans district Cllr Iain Grant recently warned people that continuing misuse may set back talks and force the crossing to close.

Changes in the pipeline include making train drivers honk a warning closer to the passing place and making improvements to its surface.

Network Rail and British Transport Police have also been at the crossing throughout the summer to talk about safety.

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