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Level crossing near miss in Kent

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An appeal from Network Rail for people to take care around pedestrian crossings over the railway has been sparked by a shocking near miss with a group of walkers not far from Sevenoaks in Kent.

The incident took place at a foot crossing between Shoreham and Otford, in Kent, when a group of five people were narrowly missed by a Blackfriars to Sevenoaks Thameslink train.

As the weather has got warmer and COVID restrictions have been loosened, level crossing managers from the company’s Southern Region have noticed a rise in the numbers of people using footpath crossings. While some of them have safety features such as warning lights or electronic train horn sounds, many rely on users taking time to Stop, Look and Listen, and trains sounding their horns.

Simon Morgan, Network Rail Southern Region’s director of safety, said: “The driver of this train was so close to hitting this group of people he had to stop and leave his cab to check they were okay.

“With the hot weather and greater numbers of people out and about, I’d really like to encourage everyone to remember to take care around our railway.

“We’ve made a lot of progress with safety at level crossings, including fitting hi-tech electronic train horn sounders to some, red and green lights and even closing a great many completely and replacing them with bridges. But we can’t get rid of all of them and it’s really important for people to always stop, look and listen, and stay off the railway in a place of safety until the train or trains have passed.”

A week after the incident, another near miss occurred at Seal level crossing, near Sevenoaks, where a woman ran across in front of a train, causing the train to emergency brake.

Thameslink and Great Northern Train Services Director Rob Mullen said: “These near-misses left our drivers feeling very shaken. Someone could easily have been seriously hurt or even killed. Please, please respect the railway and use these crossings sensibly.”