Suffolk: Rail safety barriers to stop further accidents on network

A car lay on the railroad track after it was struck by a train on the B1113 in Old Newton in 2011

A car lay on the railroad track after it was struck by a train on the B1113 in Old Newton in 2011

Work to reduce the risk of accidents involving vehicles and trains is under way following a risk assessment of sites where roads are close to rail tracks.

Reviews of 20 locations where vehicles are at risk of going onto railway lines if they come off the road has been completed by Suffolk County Council.

The authority was criticised by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) following an accident where a driver lost control of his vehicle on the road between Old Netwon and Stowmarket and ended up on a railway line in 2011.

Despite undertaking a risk assessment in 2005 the council had not taken steps to prevent vehicles from crashing onto the tracks, the RAIB said.

The male driver was injured but was able to escape from the car before a train, travelling from Cambridge to Ipswich, struck the vehicle.

A safety barrier was subsequently installed to prevent further accidents and the council began work on the new risk assessment. Work to install safety barriers at three out of the 20 sites is set to begin in the New Year.

The council said last December, when the work was announced, there was “no evidence” the rail sites were unsafe.

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A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “We have completed detailed risk assessments at 20 sites where roads run close to rail tracks. These risk assessments have been agreed with Network Rail. Funding has been provided by the county council and Network Rail to address the sites with the higher risks.

“Safety barriers are planned to be installed at Newmarket, Little Saxham and Woodbridge in the New Year.

“Once some technical difficulties are overcome, it is planned to install similar barriers at Bacton and Bentley.

“Low cost measures will be considered at the other sites where the risks were not as significant.”