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

Cottonmill Lane level crossing, St Albans,

Cottonmill Lane level crossing, St Albans, - Credit: Archant

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 CCTV

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

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.

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“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.”