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Level Crossing Protection

Volume 972: debated on Thursday 25 October 1979

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asked the Minister of Transport whether he has considered the report of the joint working party of his Department and the British Railways Board on level crossing protection, which was published in July last year.

I have considered the report and I have taken into account the comments made by various bodies. I accept the main conclusion of the working party that the replacement of many manned, gated crossings by automatic crossings would improve safety, would save both money and manpower, and in many cases would reduce delays to road traffic. I have, therefore, asked the chief inspecting officer of railways to revise the requirements for level crossing protection as recommended in the report. The British Railways Board has already accepted the report's recommendations and the chairman has told me he is anxious to implement them.The report makes a number of other recommendations which, with three minor exceptions, I accept in principle. I am considering how these should be implemented.The exceptions are that I do not propose it should be made an offence to stop a vehicle on a crossing; I do not propose to impose a charge on developers where increased use of a crossing calls for improvements; and I do not propose to circulate a list of crossings with poor road profiles, since they will be individually marked.Some of the report's recommendations will be of interest to local highway authorities. It is for individual local authorities, in planning their transport expenditure, to determine the priority they attach to reducing road delays at level crossings, but I hope they will be ready to discuss such proposals with the Board.The Board will now be able to bring forward proposals to install safer, cheaper and more effective level crossings. There will be no change in the existing statutory procedures for the making of representations to me before new arrangements are approved, so that each individual crossing will continue to be considered on its merits, before any change is made.