IT was a disastrous error that could have led to tragedy.
An 85-year-old motorist was half-way across a level crossing when she suddenly veered off the road and along a high-speed railway line, narrowly missing the live rail and halting trains.
But highway chiefs have taken a year to devise a scheme aimed at preventing anything similar happening again.
Campaigners have condemned the delays surrounding the project, which includes new road signs either side of the barrier-controlled crossing at Brockenhurst station.
Denis Fryer, of the South Hampshire Rail Users’ Group, said: “It’s very poor.
“The risks attached to any incident involving an electrified rail are huge.
“The county council seems to have taken an awfully long time to address something that should have been dealt with pretty quickly.”
The incident happened a year ago today. A New Milton pensioner was giving her 20-year-old grandson a lift when she mistook the line for the entrance to the station car park.
Instead of stopping or reversing, she drove 80 yards up the track and ended up on a set of points near the end of platform two.
She and her grandson escaped unhurt after rail employees quickly switched off the power.
Network Rail said trains were in no danger because the crossing barriers were up, which meant all the signals in the area were on red.
The gran was reported for careless driving, but British Transport Police dropped the case after she handed in her licence.
The proposed new directional signs aim to prevent anyone else making the same error.
Parish council chairman Russell Horne welcomed the scheme, but called for the inclusion of a “non-standard”
sign highlighting the position of the track.
“At the moment there’s nothing to indicate that there’s a railway there,”
Cllr Horne defended the time taken to implement the measures.
He said: “It’s always a lot better when things are done more speedily, but the county council has had to carry out a proper process of consultation and consideration.”
A Network Rail spokesman said: “What happened at Brockenhurst was incredibly unusual. It’s not the sort of thing we see every day.”
South West Trains declined to comment.
More New Forest headlines
- 'Controversial' councillor becomes council chair
- UPDATE: Pensioner dies after being hit by lorry in layby
- 2,500 sign petition to save household waste tip
- Developers launch new flats plan for hotel
- MP calls for government to step in as health trust crisis turns to 'shambles'
- Major new hospital 'could be two years away'
- New cycle lane puts riders 'on collision course' with parked cars
- Firefighters called as woman stuck in bog