How a warning about about children in danger at Cardross level crossing ended up in Wales and took Network Rail seven hours to respond
John Robins, who reported the matter to Network Rail and the letter from Evelyn Brown, Community Relations Manager, Scotland, Network Rail.
To Ms Evelyn Brown, Community Relations Manager, Scotland, Network Rail, 151-153 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5NW
Dear Ms Brown,
Please find attached a copy of the Railway Neighbour notification you issued on 17th July regarding essential track maintenance work in this area, commencing tomorrow, Monday 5th August and continuing intermittently until Saturday 24th August.
This makes no mention of work commencing early this morning (Sunday 4th August) and running all day with the suspension of all commercial rail services on the line. This may of course have been unscheduled emergency repairs for which there was no time to issue a railway neighbour notification, though the large number of rail vehicles involved would suggest it was scheduled work.
At circa noon today I noticed a long ballast carrying train blocking the Bainfield Pedestrian Rail Crossing (a right of way). It was straddling the crossing and moving occasionally, I believe to facilitate work involving use of the ballast trucks by workers and vehicles further up the line (east of Bainfield Crossing) in the vicinity of the Ferry Road Bridge.
At around 12.05 a young woman tried to use the Bainfield Crossing from the north side. She opened the gate, went through and stood near the trackside waiting for the ballast train to move. After about five minutes she realised she was not going to be able to cross and left the crossing to go back onto Bainfield Road.
Just as the woman left the crossing two young lads (circa 9 and 11 years old and carrying skateboards) approached the crossing from the north side. They would have been heading for the cycle path on the south side of the railway. They too opened the gate but instead of standing clear of the line they crossed to where the stationary train was blocking their way. They appeared to be looking for a way of crossing between or under the ballast trucks. After a minute or two they either spotted a Network Rail worker further up the line or simply realised that trying to cross the line was not one of their better ideas. The boys came back to the Bainfield side and left the area before I had a chance to go down and warn them of the risk they were taking.
At this time the engine (and driver) of this train were some distance down the line near the Peel Street pedestrian bridge and the end of the train was upline near Ferry Road bridge.
I was astonished to realise that Network Rail had not placed any notices at the crossing to inform the public of the temporary closure and warn of the dangers, no attempt had been made to lock the crossing for the duration of the works and no Network Rail safety officer was present to ensure the safety of the public.
At about 12.I5 I phoned the number given on your Railway Neighbour notification letter (03457114141) and went through the push-button options to report a dangerous situation on the railway. The man I spoke to asked me where the incident had taken place and I told him it was ongoing and gave him details of the location. I made a point of spelling out the word Bainfield and telling him it was at Cardross near Helensburgh. He told me he had located it on his map.
He also told me that it was not normal practise for Network Rail to post safety officers at pedestrian crossings during situations such as this. He said something along the lines of “people should be more responsible”. I pointed out that you cannot always expect kids to act responsibly and surely it was the duty of Network Rail to ensure safety was maintained. He then said that was why Network Rail wanted to close pedestrian crossings. He then asked me for my personal details (I had already given him my name and assumed my phone number would have been displayed on his system) and I suggested it might be better if he first alerted someone to the situation at Bainfield. He told me he could not do anything until he filled out his report. I gave him the details he wanted.
At 7pm this evening (Sunday) I received a call from British Transport Police in Scotland from an officer asking for details of the railway trespass incident I had reported earlier. I fully explained the situation and commented that I had reported the problem nearly seven hours previously and that work was still in progress in the vicinity of the crossing. He apologised for the delay which he explained had been caused by my incident having been passed to an office in Wales instead of Scotland and only having been passed to Scotland a few minutes before. This is surely a very serious error given that it involved the safety of children on a railway line?
I would be grateful if you would clarify something in the attached Railway Neighbour notification letter. In this you refer to scheduled improvement work at Geilston Level Crossing, Cardross. As far as I know there are three level crossings in Cardross. Bainfield Pedestrian Crossing, the vehicle crossing at Cardross Station and the vehicle/pedestrian crossing at Murray Crossing (which is the nearest to Geilston House). Can you tell me if I have the names right and which one is being improved during the coming weeks?
I also note that in addition to night time works the line is being closed to commercial traffic from 23.00 hrs on Friday August 9th until 6.00 hrs on Monday August 12th. After what happened today will any safety arrangements be put in place at Bainfield Crossing to cover that period?
John F. Robins