Call for CCTV at level crossings

ON the day train wreckage in Ufton Nervet was being removed, Suffolk villagers said only CCTV at every level crossing could prevent a suicide blocking the line.

ON the day train wreckage in Ufton Nervet was being removed, Suffolk villagers said only CCTV at every level crossing could prevent a suicide blocking the line.

Seven people were killed as the First Great Western train derailed on a level crossing at Ufton Nervet, Berkshire, after Brian Drysdale, 48, of Reading, drove his car on to the level crossing and stopped there.

Despite their belief in CCTV, Trimley residents accept putting cameras at every location is unrealistic and would be hugely expensive to prevent such a rare situation.

At the village's station level crossing there is already closed-circuit television cameras in place. It was put there to monitor the barriers at a time when there were problems with accidental "strandings" on the busy freight and passenger line.

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Trimley St Mary Parish Council vice chairman Bryan Frost said the crossing had full barriers - originally the intention had been only half-barriers - and often these went down several minutes before a train was due.

"Trains coming up from the port travel at only 10mph but those heading for the southern terminal do go quite a bit faster," he said.

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"I don't think you can legislate for the tragic accident which happened at the weekend - if someone plonks a car deliberately on the line. I think it falls back on the authorities to see what sort of measures can be put in place to stop that.

"But having the CCTV at Trimley gives the opportunity for such an incident to be dealt with and the train could be alerted and slowed down.

"We have been very pleased with the operation of the CCTV and it does appeared to be monitored well."

Mr Frost said the barriers often went down early at the crossing in Station Road.

"Sometimes up to five minutes before a train is due, which can be inconvenient but at least it is safe," he said.

Most of the crossings, especially those used by traffic, have been modernised on the line in recent years because of the growth of rail freight travelling to and from Felixstowe port and following a tragic accident at Morston Hall in the 80s.

On the east Suffolk line, the crossing at Ufford has neither barriers or flashing lights, but villagers say visibility for motorists is good.

Parish clerk Heather Heelis said: "We have never had any problems at the crossing - I think because it is not an automatic system people are more cautious about approaching it."

She felt cameras might be the answer to ensure the crossing was always clear but this would be very expensive and CCTV would need to be constantly manned.

It is expected that it will take at least another two days before the track at Ufton Nervet is cleared completely and police are not sure how long it will take before it can be reopened.

It is understood that investigations are likely to focus on calls made on Mr Drysdale's mobile phone before the collision.

n What do you think of safety at level crossings? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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