Posted: Fri 7th Apr 2023

Network Rail takes lead in reminding dog walkers in Wales to stay safe on level crossings

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Dog walkers are being urged to exercise caution around level crossings as incidents involving dogs have risen by 200% in the past year. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

According to reports from Network Rail’s safety team, there have been 32 incidents of level crossing misuse involving dogs in the UK since this time last year. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The majority of these incidents have been reported in North Wales and Shropshire. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Two fatalities have occurred as a result of these incidents, one dog and one owner. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

In an effort to combat the rise in incidents, Network Rail has launched safety campaigns, such as Distraction Kills, and has issued safety advice to the public. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The advice includes keeping dogs on short leads when on or near level crossings, paying full attention when using level crossings, and checking both ways before crossing. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Recent safety campaigns led by Network Rail, such as Distraction Kills, have highlighted the issue of pedestrians being distracted by their dogs while using level crossings and have issued the below safety advice: ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

  • Always make sure you pay full attention. It’s easy to get lost in your own thoughts when walking your dog on a familiar route.
  • Always keep your dog on a short lead when on or near level crossings. Even if your dog is trained.
  • Keep control of your dog as you approach the railway line to help remove distractions.
  • Stop, Look and Listen and always follow the signs and instructions at level crossings.
  • Check both ways before crossing – if there is a train coming, do not cross, even if it appears to be far away.
  • Remember trains can come from either direction at any time.
  • Cross quickly when clear and keep your dog under control when crossing.
  • Once safely across remain in control of your dog. Sudden distraction could lead to pulls, putting you both back on the railway track and possibly in the way of trains.

Misusing level crossings not only endangers the lives of people and animals but also has a negative impact on train services, causing delays that cost taxpayers money. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

The 32 incidents reported in the past year have caused over eight hours of delays and cost taxpayers £40,000 in lost revenue. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Kellyann Jones, community safety manager at Network Rail, said: “When your dog is off a lead you don’t have control. Would your dog come back if you called? Could it hear you over the sound of a train? In a moment of panic your first instinct could be to chase after your dog onto railway. In an attempt to save its life, you put yourself at huge risk. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“When walking your dog near the railway or over a level crossing please keep it on the lead and under control to avoid a near miss or worse.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

British Transport Police Superintendent for Wales, Andrew Morgan, added: “With parts of the rail network electrified, trains operating at high speeds and at quieter levels, changes in timetables, and for many other reasons, the railway can be a dangerous place. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“I urge all dog walkers to be extremely vigilant by keeping their pets on a lead at all times when near the rail network.  I would also caution everyone that accessing the rail network beyond permitted access, such as using a level crossing, is not only dangerous, but is classed as illegal trespass.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

Leyton Powell, Director of Safety, Sustainability and Risk at Transport for Wales, said: “We’ve seen a number of incidents recently where members of the public have followed dogs onto the tracks, even though it has been fortunate no-one has been seriously injured or killed, the difference between a catastrophic event and a near miss is often inches or seconds. ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

“We urge anyone walking a dog near to the railway to keep them under control at all times and not to put your own life at risk by trying to retrieve animals which have gone onto the tracks.” ‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌​

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