Plea for level crossing safety to be stepped up

Natalie Mulholland of Springfield, Fife died on level crossing in August 2009. Family pic for use in Fife Herald.

Natalie Mulholland of Springfield, Fife died on level crossing in August 2009. Family pic for use in Fife Herald.

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SAFETY at a Howe of Fife level crossing must be stepped up to avoid another fatality.

Andy Mulholland, whose 16-year-old daughter Natalie died after being struck by a train at the Cults Mill crossing near Springfield three years ago, said people using the crossing have no way of knowing if a train is approaching.

Mr Mulholland said Network Rail, which last week announced a £4 million upgrade of all level crossings in Scotland, must also make this crossing much safer.

He told the Fife Herald that at present the crossing which is marked ‘private’ is used by many pedestrians and dog walkers in the local area.

WARNING

However, unlike the Hospital Mill crossing just yards up the tracks, there are no safety flashing lights or sirens to alert people to an oncoming train.

He said: “I know this crossing isn’t frequently used by vehicles so it might not need safety barriers as Network Rail are proposing elseswhere, but it does need some sort of warning noise or lights to let people know a train is coming.

“There is a bend in the tracks coming from Ladybank so visibility is virtually nil for and if someone was on the crossing and didn’t hear the train, as these new vehicles can be pretty quiet, they would only have seconds to move out of the way.

“If it was dark or windy there is every chance that there would be no warning at all and I would hate to have another family go through what we have.”

Mr Mulholland said some improvements had been made to the crossing since Natalie’s death on August 8, 2009, including paving to make it easier for people to cross.

However, he believes these measures don’t got far enough and said some sort of alert system would at least give people warning.

A spokesperson for Network Rail urged local people to use the Hospital Mill crossing instead.

He said: “The crossing at Cults Mill is not for public use – it is a private access crossing for famers to the fields on the other side of the railway.

“It should only be used by authorised people / for working vehicles etc.

“The general public should use the nearby Hospital Mill crossing, which has been designed with limited public use in mind and has a history of public use even though it is a private crossing.”

The spokesman added: “There are around 80 services each day running on the line.

“All of them should be sounding their horns as they near the crossing.”