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Translink NI Railways holds joint training event with NIFRS and PSNI to highlight safety related incidents at level crossings on rail network.

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Translink NI Railways in partnership with Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service and PSNI conducted a graphic re-enactment of a collision scene to remind pedestrians and motorists of the very serious consequences of trespassing on or near tracks. The incident which took place on the Knockmore back line near Crumlin was organised as a valuable training event for the emergency services.

The incident simulated a car being struck at a crossing by a train. The car was overturned with passengers trapped inside, who needed to be safely cut out of the vehicle.  Meanwhile, there were crew and passengers on board the train who needed to be evacuated.  Translink’s incident care team also attended to provide after-care for casualties and passengers.

Richard Knox, Head of Network Operations, Translink, said “Last month we revealed our annual prosecution figures for safety related incidents.  We made prosecutions against 74 individuals over the past 12 months, at a total cost to offenders of over £14,000.

The majority of prosecutions in 2014/15 against motorists were due to them ignoring warning signals at level crossings or attempting to ‘beat the barrier’ as the warning lights were flashing or the barriers were descending.

The objective of this event, in addition to providing an opportunity for all agencies involved to practice their emergency response skills, is to highlight to motorists and pedestrians the very real dangers associated with taking risks at level crossings.  Whether incidents result from a temporary lapse in concentration or a conscious decision to ignore the warning lights flashing or barriers dropping down, the results are the same.  In this incident, the motorist, a newly qualified young driver escaped uninjured from the vehicle however was arrested on the scene by PSNI, on suspicion of dangerous driving.

Roy Purvis, Station Commander, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Servicesaid, “Firefighters from Crumlin Fire Station took part in this multi-agency training event which was designed to test our operational response and procedures, as well as the ability of multi-agencies to integrate and respond to a major incident involving multiple casualties on the railway line.  This training was extremely beneficial for reinforcing interagency working between the emergency responders and for enhancing our capability in protecting our community.  Whilst NIFRS is well prepared and ready to respond to such incidents we would appeal to the public to follow the safety advice with regards level crossings and not to take any unnecessary risks in the first place.”

Inspector Willie McAleese, PSNI Antrim area said: “All road users must obey the warning signals at level crossings. The training event today has graphically illustrated the potentially catastrophic consequences which could be caused by one driver’s impatience, who in a moment of madness, decided to risk lives by not waiting for a train to pass.

“Weighing anything between 150 and 300 tons and capable of travelling at speeds of up to 90mph, trains can take up to a mile to come to an emergency stop. So our message to motorists is very simple. Always obey traffic signals at level crossings, it’s not just your life you’re putting at risk.”

For more information on Translink’s safety activity go to www.translink.co.uk/railsafety

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