BTP rolls out latest technology to combat level crossing misuse

British Transport Police (BTP) has unveiled its latest hi-tech weapon in the fight to combat level crossing misuse. The purpose-built, marked BTP van is fitted with nine cameras, each of which uses numberplate recognition technology. The vehicle allows officers to target level crossings anywhere in the region and to respond swiftly when misuse is reported by rail staff or members of the public.

Dec 1, 2011
By Paul Jacques
Graeme Biggar

British Transport Police (BTP) has unveiled its latest hi-tech weapon in the fight to combat level crossing misuse. The purpose-built, marked BTP van is fitted with nine cameras, each of which uses numberplate recognition technology. The vehicle allows officers to target level crossings anywhere in the region and to respond swiftly when misuse is reported by rail staff or members of the public.

The Minister of State at the Department for Transport, Theresa Villiers, visited Mitcham Eastfields level crossing last week to see first hand the new Railway Safety Camera Partnership Vehicle, the industry’s latest investment in advanced technology to deter motorists and pedestrians from breaking the law.

BTP officers worked alongside colleagues from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the DVLA and passenger train operating company First Capital Connect in a demonstration to educate drivers and pedestrians on the dangers of crossing misuse.

The vehicle is funded by Network Rail and BTP Assistant Chief Constable Alan Pacey explained: “The education and enforcement initiative has been put in place to give officers an opportunity to drive home the message that running the risk at a level crossing is just not worth it.

“The level crossing enforcement van is a useful tool in helping to reduce level crossing misuse across the country. In comparison to most other countries, we have a good safety record, but misuse of crossing persists, despite our best efforts, and even one death is one too many.

“Incredibly some people are still putting their lives on the line by ignoring warning lights and sirens and trying to dash through crossings when trains are approaching. This is hugely irresponsible and dangerous and we will not hesitate to take action against anyone caught doing so.”

Martin Gallagher, head of level crossings for Network Rail, added: “Level crossing misuse remains a problem across the country, putting lives at risk, costing millions of pounds and causing delays for thousands of passengers and road users. Mitcham Eastfields is one of the crossings where we continue to see bad motorist behaviour and somewhere we remain focused on educating drivers about the risks of misuse and where necessary using camera technology to prosecute in order to change these dangerous habits and make the railway and roads safer.”

Ms Villiers said: “Accidents at level crossings can have tragic and life-changing consequences, so the rail industry’s efforts to tackle the key causes of this issue are welcome. The work BTP and Network Rail are doing to educate the public about the dangers of them misusing level crossings is vital if we are to reduce the risk of fatal incidents.”

Mr Pacey said BTP will continue to work closely with the MPS and Network Rail to improve knowledge and, where necessary, to take action against those who continue to misuse crossings.

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