Shocking level crossing incidents in South East spark warning from rail crime teams

Two incidents on level crossings in Kent within a day of each other have sparked a warning from Network Rail not to take risks around the railway.

The most shocking incident at Whitehall Lane level crossing near Canterbury on Monday, saw two young girls and two men walk through a gate past a red light and run across in front of an oncoming train. The group actually left the railway a matter of seconds before the Southeastern Margate-St Pancras train passed them.

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In the other incident on Sunday, a group of dirt bikers cut the padlocks off a locked and bolted level crossing at Shornemead, near Gravesend, to access private property. The crossing is kept locked with only authorised users having keys.

Network Rail Southern region’s head of security, crime and resilience, Gerardo Chiariello, said: “I’m really shocked by the attitude of these adults in the recent incidents. I sometimes hear people talking as if trespass and misusing level crossings is something young people do, but these were people in positions of responsibility for young lives and they thought running across in front of a train was a good example to set."

British Transport Police Inspector Jonathan Pine, who is embedded in Network Rail’s crime team in Kent and Sussex, said: “Trains take a long time to stop, from full speed it could even be a full kilometre, and in both of these incidents a single person falling over or off their bike could have been fatal."

Shocking incident at Whitehall Lane level crossing near Canterbury on Monday Credit: Network Rail

Anyone with information on the Shornemead incident should text the British Transport Police on 61016. In an emergency, dial 999.

Jim Maxwell, Head of Drivers for Southeastern, added: “Our drivers are critical workers delivering a very important service to get people who have to travel to where they need to be during the current crisis, and don’t deserve the extra stress that these types of incidents cause."

In Network Rail Kent and Sussex which also covers South London, trespass is down 31% year year to date, and vandalism is down 55% year to date.