A MOTORIST put his life at danger by speeding across a level crossing as the barriers were coming down, in a desperate attempt to avoid having to wait.

The footage from a CCTV camera at a crossing in Southampton, shows the motorist driving on the wrong side of the road, causing a pedestrian to jump out of the way.

He then races across the crossing at Mount Pleasant, seconds before a train thunders down the track.

The footage has been revealed by Network Rail as the organisation continues with a nationwide programme of closing level crossings.

But although closing some crossings will decrease the risk to motorists, pedestrians and railway lines alike, there are calls for the public to reduce the risk to their own lives by taking care when approaching crossings.

Daily Echo: The car approaches the crossing as the barriers come down.Daily Echo: The driver swerves to avoid the first barrierDaily Echo: The motorist then speeds over the tracks...Daily Echo: ...and then drives off.

Sharon Vye-Parminter safety director for the Network Rail and South West Trains Alliance, which runs the railway in Hampshire, said: “We are committed to improving safety on what is already a very safe railway and we are always looking at ways to make level crossings safer. However, as this footage shows, there are still people out there who are prepared to put lives in danger.

“Closing level crossings is one way that we can reduce to the risk to the railway, but we also need the help of the public.”

A spokesman for the British Transport Police said: “We continue to work closely with Network Rail to raise awareness and educate those who use level crossings on the dangerous of misuse.

“Level crossings, and other crossings where road, footpaths and rail cross, are designed to keep people safe, but it is a sad fact that a minority of people think the rules do not apply to them.

“Drivers who willingly flout the law and place themselves and others in danger should be in no doubt that if caught doing so, we will do everything in our power to prosecute those responsible.”

Nine level crossings in Hampshire and Surrey have been closed since 2010 while audible alarms, which announce when a train is approaching, have been fitted at eight crossings.

The work is part of Network Rail's nationwide crossings improvement programme, which will see 10 per cent of the country's crossings closed by April.

The organisation says closing the crossings will reduce the overall risk level posted by crossings by 25 per cent.

The £130million programme has also seen some crossings fitted with red lights to dissuade motorists from jumping lights, 100 new level crossing managers employed and footbridges built to replace 38 crossings.

And another 500 crossings are set to close in the next five years, with a list expected to be announced in April.