Every level crossing in Scotland will get lifesaving barriers
Safety barriers are to be installed at all level crossings on Scotland’s railways.
Bosses at Network Rail confirmed the move after a trial of a new, cheaper mini barrier at a crossing in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire, was hailed as a “fantastic success”.
Up to £4 million will now be spent installing the safety devices at the 23 open level crossings – most of which are in the Highlands.
Campaigners have been demanding barriers at all crossings in the wake of accidents, such as the one that claimed the life of an elderly man, his wife and brother in 2009. Angus and Margaret MacKay, both 81, from Inverness, were killed when a train smashed into their car in Halkirk, Caithness.
Mr MacKay’s brother, Donald, 66, from Latheron, Caithness, was also killed in the accident on the unmanned crossing, which had warning lights but no barriers.
In another incident, teenagers Paul Oliver and Allan Thain were killed after the car they were in drove over a level crossing and ploughed into a train.
A friend had been giving the two 17-year-olds a lift to college when the accident happened at the Delny level crossing, near Invergordon, in 2007.
Infrastructure and capital investment secretary Alex Neil said: “Our level crossings are among the safest in Europe and ten times safer than the European average, but every accident on a level crossing is one too many.
“Tragic incidents like the ones at Delny and Halkirk further confirm the need for all partners, including road users and pedestrians, to work together to do everything we can to reduce the risks.
“I have been encouraged by Network Rail’s determination to find an innovative way forward to improve the safety of open level crossings, and I have taken a great interest in this trial at Ardrossan.
“Railway safety, including at level crossings, remains reserved to Westminster. However, to demonstrate our commitment, the Scottish Government earlier this year announced an additional £10m fund to help facilitate the closure of level crossings, and I will continue to liaise with Network Rail on these issues.”
Network Rail trialled the new mini barrier system at the Ardrossan crossing over the three months to the end of July.
Those crossings not suitable for the smaller barriers will have traditional ones installed.
David Simpson, Network Rail route managing director for Scotland, said: “The trial of this new system on single line railway at Ardrossan has been a fantastic success. We have developed and successfully tested an affordable, innovative system that will improve the safety of open level crossings.”
Dave Thompson, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, has been involved in the campaign for barriers to be installed.
He said: “Over the years these dangerous open crossings have tragically claimed the lives of too many people.
“It is absolutely right that this money is spent on improving the safety of level crossings across the Highlands.”
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