Near misses at St Albans level crossing prompt Network Rail reaction

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 February 2018

A child crossing the Cottonmill level-crossing. Picture: Network Rail

A child crossing the Cottonmill level-crossing. Picture: Network Rail


Train bosses are reviewing the safety of a St Albans level crossing after yet another two near misses in a fortnight.

These are just the latest examples in a series of reckless behaviour over the Cottonmill Lane level crossing - on both January 25 and February 5 people narrowly avoided death or serious injury.

Covert surveys undertaken between July 25 and August 2, 2015, and July 1 to July 9, 2017, recorded 787 separate incidents of dangerous behaviour at the railway line.

Network Rail responded by closing the crossing in 2015, only to reopen it three weeks later after pressure from Herts county council and local residents, who argued Sopwell ward would be cut in half and left isolated.

Throughout this week Network Rail will be at the crossing trying to teach users about how dangerous the line is.

It is a popular passing place, with more than 1,000 pedestrians and cyclists using it every day and about 60 trains travelling between Albans Abbey and Watford Junction.

Herts county councillor Sandy Walkington said: “I have been working very hard with the Rights of Way team at County Hall to persuade Network Rail to come up with solutions that work for everyone – a safe crossing of the line that also provides an appropriate route for cyclists and other wheeled users using the Green Ring or needing to access Griffiths Way, Westminster Lodge or travel in a green way up to town and between the two halves of Sopwell ward.

“In the meantime we must avoid any behaviour that encourages a precipitate closure of the crossing. The fact that we managed to stop them doing this previously is no guarantee that they will not try again.”

Head of safety for Network Rail’s London North Western route, Priti Patel, said the high number of incidents is worrying: “We want to remind everyone of the significant risk to people’s lives if they don’t [use crossings safely].

“Our advice is simple: never take a chance on a level crossing and always use it correctly.”

Instead of closing the crossing, Network Rail has installed lighting, clear markings, new signs and a yellow walkway to help people use the crossing correctly.

It has also cut back vegetation to improve visibility.

The busy Cotton Mill Lane crossing is close to schools, a supermarket, a leisure centre and a retail park, and is used by around 800 pedestrians and 200 cyclists every day.

More news stories

St Albans patients are among more than 20,000 in the Herts Valleys who are waiting at least three weeks to see a GP, new figures reveal.


A crash and a broken down vehicle near the M25’s Potters Bar junction have been causing delays anticlockwise this morning.

Yesterday, 15:00

It’s said to be the most wonderful time of the year, but is it really for everyone?

Yesterday, 14:30

Tickets have gone on sale for an annual Hertfordshire music festival at a special discounted price.


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.

Digital Edition

Read the The Herts Advertiser e-edition E-edition
Zoo Watch CountryPhile

Newsletter Sign Up

Herts Advertiser weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read stories

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Herts Most Wanted Herts Business Awards