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Campaigners call on Network Rail to reconsider fast-falling barriers in Totton
Rail bosses are refusing to change barrier times despite calls to allow more time so elderly and disabled people get over the tracks safely.
Five months ago Network Rail vowed to meet its rail regulator about changing times at the Totton level crossing.
It came after a Daily Echo investigation revealed three near fatalities and claims by disabled people and mums that they fall too fast.
Our investigation then revealed the crossing gave the least time to cross among a sample of five identical crossings.
Now the rail operator says it is keeping the timings the same because they fall within their own guidelines.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “We discussed the two reported incidents and the level crossing timings at Totton with the Office for Rail Regulation.
“It was concluded that on the evidence available, there was not a sufficient case to increase the timings, particularly as they already fall within the guidelines.”
But disabled people, campaigners and community leaders argue the times are inadequate and are now calling on Network Rail to reconsider changing the times.
The Daily Echo’s timings found that out of five other similar double barrier crossings in our circulation area the Totton crossing in Junction Road had the tightest time giving only 21 seconds.
This is ten seconds below the maximum time stipulated in the rail operators’ guidelines.
Three near misses at the crossing were reported within months of each other last year. One involved an elderly woman who became marooned in the middle of the tracks after a barrier came down and blocked her path.
Two motorists leapt out of their cars and told her to flatten herself against the side of a crossing while a train hurtled by.
Just days before that a barrier slammed down on top of a pensioner riding his mobility scooter.
Councillor David Harrison, who represents Totton South, said: “Let's just add on another five seconds.
“Elderly people and infirm are getting out and about more than they have ever done and that would suggest to me that Network Rail need to consider that society is changing in that way and that perhaps there is a strong and compelling case for change.”
Disability charity Scope said disabled people should be able to use level crossings without worrying that barriers will come down before they’ve finished crossing.
A Scope spokesman said “We were pleased to hear that Network Rail and the regulator were sitting down to discuss the issue. Residents are unsurprisingly disappointed that they haven’t been able to come up with a solution.
“We hope that they consider taking another look.”