A Southeastern High Speed train, running at around 80mph, has had a near-miss with a cyclist on a foot crossing which links Ashford Road in Chartham with the wetland open space on the other side of the line near Canterbury.
The incident happened at about 07:50 with the train on its journey from Margate to St Pancras at the Dog Kennel foot crossing. The train driver sounded his horn as the male on a bike went across the crossing, causing the driver to apply his emergency brake and come to a stand beyond the crossing.
It follows two similar incidents in August involving walkers near Sevenoaks in Kent. Although such incidents have been falling in number in recent years, there were 323 near-misses with non-vehicle users last year at level crossings and there were two fatalities.
Increasing numbers of level crossings do have safety features such as warning lights or automatically emit a train horn noise. However, many still rely on users taking time to ‘Stop, Look and Listen’. Trains will also sound their horns.
Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s Route Director for Kent, said: “This shocking incident near Canterbury is part of a small but concerning rise in such incidents in recent months and the impact had the train hit this cyclist could have been devastating to all involved. We all want to enjoy the outdoors but I’d ask people to be vigilant when they are anywhere near the railway and always to Stop, Look and Listen before they cross.”
Jim Maxwell, Head of Drivers for Southeastern, added: “Our drivers don’t deserve the extra stress that these types of incidents cause.
“Reckless trespass incidents can have a profound effect on our drivers’ mental health, and are further compounded if the driver has been unfortunate enough to have been previously involved in a fatality, with the potential to cause flashbacks.
“It often means that the drivers have to take time off whilst they recover, and are supported through their ordeal.
“I fully support our colleagues at Network Rail and the British Transport Police in trying to identify and pursue the culprits.”