Following two incidents on level crossings in Kent within a day of each other, Network Rail has issued a warning to the public not to take risks around the railway.
At Whitehall Lane level crossing near Canterbury, two young girls and two men walked through a gate, past a red light, and ran across in front of an oncoming train. The group actually left the railway a matter of seconds before the Southeastern Margate-St Pancras train passed them.
In the second incident, a group of dirt bikers cut the padlocks off a locked and bolted level crossing at Shornemead, near Gravesend, to access private property. The crossing is kept locked, with only authorised users having keys.
Gerardo Chiariello, Network Rail Southern region’s head of security, crime and resilience, said: “I’m really shocked by the attitude of these adults in the recent incidents. I sometimes hear people talking as if trespass and misusing level crossings is something young people do, but these were people in positions of responsibility for young lives and they thought running across in front of a train was a good example to set.
“The bigger picture is that we’ve actually seen a drop in trespassing and other crime on our railway in the South East, through targeted action by us and the British Transport Police, and also the impact of COVID, but these incidents are worrying coming so close to each other.
“It’s absolutely crucial that everyone understands the dangers of the railway and how to treat it with respect.”
British Transport Police Inspector Jonathan Pine, who is embedded in Network Rail’s crime team in Kent and Sussex, said: “Trains take a long time to stop, from full speed it could even be a full kilometre, and in both of these incidents a single person falling over or off their bike could have been fatal.
“We’ve passed the video of the incident at Shornemead to our officers to investigate and I’d urge anyone who recognises the bikes and bikers to get in touch. This was one of the most blatant examples of trespassing we’ve ever seen, not to mention a risk to all the bikers themselves as they crossed the railway and breached lockdown rules.”