Another near-miss prompts further safety warnings about contentious St Albans level crossing

PUBLISHED: 15:55 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:48 16 October 2018

Cottonmill Lane level crossing, St Albans,

Cottonmill Lane level crossing, St Albans,


A near-miss over a controversial St Albans level crossing has prompted further safety warnings from train operators.

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

On September 22 a pedestrian was almost hit by a train on the Abbey Flyer line at Cottonmill Lane, saving themselves at the last moment by stepping backwards.

A total of 845 dangerous incidents were recorded at the crossing in two covert camera surveys conducted by Network Rail (NR), one between July 25 and August 2 2015 and the other between July 1 and July 9 2017.

This figure has increased - for the last three years NR has stated the two surveys picked up 787 incidents. NR say it reassessed the footage and identified more incidences of misuse.

These include stuck pushchairs, cyclists not dismounting from their bikes, and trespassers lingering on the line.

NR classify it as one of the highest risk crossings on its London North Western route, Euston to Carlisle.

Route level crossing manager for NR, Lucy Chadderton, said: “This latest incident is a reminder of the potentially tragic risks of using a level crossing unsafely.

“We urge local people to use Cottonmill Lane crossing safely - including simple things like removing headphones, dismounting from bikes and looking both ways before crossing.

“The message is ‘Stop. Look. Listen’ before crossing.”

This follows a NR meeting in September where proposals for the future of the pathway were presented to the community.

In 2015, NR closed the crossing for three weeks, taking a U-turn on the decision after a furious backlash from residents.

Campaigning locals argue the path is a crucial route through the area.

She continued: “We are listening to the concerns of local people and considering their feedback regarding the future of this crossing.

“Meanwhile we are working to further improve the crossing including straightening the walking route and improving the crossing surface.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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