Safety fears at Newcastle Metro level crossing after car and train crash

The level crossing at Callerton Parkway Metro station in Newcastle. Credit: LDRS

There has been a call for urgent action after a car and Metro train crashed on a level crossing in Newcastle.

A Kia hatchback collided with a Metro train next to Callerton Parkway station on Thursday morning, with services suspended as recovery teams removed the damaged vehicle from the train tracks.

While nobody was seriously injured in the incident, it is not the first time there have been issues on the crossing. There were similar incidents in 2020, 2013, and 2007, while back in 1999 former Newcastle United defender Andy Griffin was involved in a crash between a train and his Porsche there.

Unlike many railway crossings, there are no barriers that come down to block the Metro track at Callerton – with only warning signs and flashing lights to warn drivers that a train is approaching.

Local politicians have urged Metro operator Nexus to take steps to ensure there is not another repeat.

However, transport chiefs say the crossing is safe and claim the installation of barriers is “not practical”.

Emergency services were called to the scene of the crash at the Callerton Parkway level crossing on Thursday 13 April. Credit: NE TRAFFIC LIVE/TWITTER

Callerton and Throckley councillor Ian Donaldson, of the Newcastle Independents party, said: “It is clear that having a crossing where Metro trains and cars are separated only by lights is not fit for purpose.  After this latest incident, an urgent review of the safety of all Metro crossings needs to take place. “

Liberal Democrat Thom Campion, opposition party transport spokesman, who represents the neighbouring Castle ward, said: “I hope this is the last accident that happens before Nexus takes the steps required to stop this happening again. The warning signs of another incident have been there for years, we need actions not apologies before someone is seriously hurt.”

Nexus had previously installed a camera to catch drivers trying to jump the red lights at the crossing .

The Metro crossing in East Boldon does have barriers because it is on a section of the line operated by Network Rail, but Nexus has five "open" crossings at Callerton Parkway, Bank Foot, Kingston Park, Fawdon, and Howdon.

Labour candidate Adam Walker, who is standing in the Callerton and Throckley ward at May’s local elections, said: “I am relieved to hear that no one was seriously injured in the incident involving a car and a Metro train at Callerton Parkway. 

“While we await the outcome of any investigation into what happened, I have already reached out to the council and will be in contact with Nexus about what additional infrastructure can be installed to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.”

Nexus has argued that installing barriers at its crossings in Newcastle and North Tyneside would lead to extra traffic congestion, while it is understood that the cost of doing so would be around £2m for every location.

The Metro’s infrastructure director, Stuart Clarke, said that each of Nexus’ level crossings had been "rigorously assessed" and met required safety standards.

He added: “Our road crossings have very clear red traffic lights to tell motorists they must stop when a train is approaching.  They have all been refurbished in the past few years. Measures include new warning lights for pedestrians, brighter stop lights for motorists, clearer road signs, road markings and tactile paving for the visually impaired.

“Almost all level crossing risk is caused by the behaviour of people using the crossing, and we urge motorists to take due care and stop when they see a red light, in line with the Highway Code and the law.

“The installation of barriers at Metro level crossings is not something that’s practical in the urban areas we serve – it would mean crossings being ‘closed’ to traffic for around 12 minutes more every hour on busy roads.  As the crossings are adjacent to stations Metro trains travel slowly across them so the risk of serious injury is reduced for motorists who do drive through a red light. 

“I understand the concerns local councillors may have when a road accident happens at a level crossing, and I’d be happy to talk them through what we do to keep everyone safe.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...