Dog saves owner from being hit by train at East Yorkshire level crossing

A pedestrian, who was wearing headphones when using a footpath level crossing in East Yorkshire, had his pet dog to thank as he narrowly escaped being hit by a train.

Network Rail and Northern are reminding people to stay alert and always use level crossings safely after the near-miss incident at Snuff Mill Lane level crossing in Cottingham earlier this month, where around 80 trains per day travel at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.

The man did not hear the warnings or pay attention to the signs, and walked through the gate, onto the crossing. The driver of the Northern train spotted the pedestrian as he approached the level crossing at around 65mph. He said: “I blew my horn and he didn’t react to it and carried on crossing. I then put the brake into emergency while continuously blowing the horn.”

Despite the driver continuously sounding the train’s horn, the man continued to cross. He was within six feet of the train and was about to step onto the line when his dog saw the train approaching and pulled on the lead, which made the man stop.

Even when train drivers pull the emergency brake, it can take up to 2,000 metres, the length of 20 football pitches, before the train comes to a standstill. As well as being unable to stop quickly, trains cannot swerve out of the way, and misusing level crossings could lead to life changing or even fatal consequences.

Network Rail carried out work to upgrade Snuff Mill Lane level crossing and improve safety in 2018. A warning device was installed which mimics the sound of a train horn, so pedestrians and cyclists know when a train is approaching. Work has also taken place to improve the surface of the crossing and make the marked areas clearer where people should cross when it is safe to do so.

It is essential that people stay alert when using level crossings:

  • Concentrate – it’s easy to get distracted, especially by music, phones and conversation.
  • Stop, look and listen. Follow signs and instructions.
  • Check both ways before crossing – if there is a train coming, don’t cross.
  • Understand the warnings (lights, barriers, alarms).
  • Cross quickly, keeping children close and dogs on a lead.

Richard Hayden, Level Crossing Manager for Network Rail, said: “This incident at Snuff Mill Lane level crossing is shocking, and it’s clear the pedestrian was not paying attention and did not hear the warnings. The consequences could have been fatal if it wasn’t for the man’s dog pulling on the lead.

“We have carried out work at this crossing to improve safety, but it’s crucial that people stop, look and listen. They should concentrate and cross quickly and directly when it is safe to do so. It’s easy to get distracted by music, and the safest option is to remove your headphones when approaching level crossings.”

Steve Hopkinson, Regional Director at Northern, said: “The rail industry is working closely together to educate people about how to use crossings safely.

“It is only through good fortune – and a very alert dog – that we were not left dealing with tragic circumstances in this incident. It is vital that everyone respects the railway and follows guidance and advice to stay safe.”

People can find out more about using level crossings safely and our pedestrian safety campaign ‘bossing the crossing’ at: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/safety-in-the-community/railway-safety-campaigns/bossing-the-crossing-our-pedestrian-safety-campaign/  

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