Police are warning young people not to risk their lives walking on railway tracks in Sleaford after a number of ‘near misses’ have been reported.
British Transport Police have upped their presence around the Southgate level crossing near the station after hearing of children ‘racing the barriers’ to get across when the lights flash and sirens sound, potentially falling and finding themselves trapped.
Even more worrying, are reports of youths using an old pedestrian crossing near the Maltings to get onto the tracks and walking along the line as a short cut into the town centre.
Pc Helen Green said: “There have been incidents where the signalman has been lowering the barriers and had to stop to let children get through. They could have been trapped or struck by the barrier. Someone got stuck with a child in a buggy.
“It is about being sensible and adhering to the warnings.
“It is a criminal offence to trespass on the railway and to misuse level crossings when the barriers are going down.”
More warning signs are being added, and the police are to meet with county council highways and Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership to consider road safety improvement measures, including adding CCTV cameras.
Vicki Beadle, Community Safety Manager at Network Rail, said: “We are working closely with the British Transport Police to reduce incidents of deliberate misuse at Sleaford East level crossing.
“Network Rail’s Level Crossing Manager has spoken to the headteachers of three schools in the area, who have highlighted the need to use level crossings safely to their pupils. Workers from Network Rail will also visit the schools at a later date to deliver a further safety message to schoolchildren.”
Improvements could be made to the road markings leading to the crossing. Fencing is being installed at the Maltings foot crossing, as well as anti-trespass panels as a deterrent.
Ms Beadle added: “Not only is trespassing illegal, it’s also incredibly dangerous and can have fatal consequences for anyone choosing to do so.”
A Highways spokesperson said: “We’ve been working with Network Rail, and have changed the sequencing of the traffic lights near the level crossing on Grantham Road, close to Sleaford station, to keep traffic moving more smoothly.
“This also enables Network Rail to allow successive trains to pass over the level crossing more efficiently, which reduces the amount of time the barrier comes down.”