A campaign to raise awareness of safety at level crossings in the Chichester area is going from strength to strength.
The Chichester Railway Safety Action Team (CRSAT), set up 18 months ago after a student had a near miss with a train in the area, took part in an event to raise awareness at the city’s level crossings earlier this month.
Representatives from Network Rail, Southern Rail, British Transport Police, Sussex Police, and Chichester District Council were at Chichester railway station in a high-visibility event designed to draw attention to dangers of misusing the crossing.
CRSAT has been busy working with schools around the area to spread its safety message, and although it is having the desired effect, there has still been 18 prosecutions since January this year for misuse of crossings in the district.
Community safety manager at Network Rail, which is running CRSAT, Ellie Reilly, said: “Things are going from strength to strength really.
“We started off working with Bourne Community College 18 months ago when we had a near miss at a local crossing.
“They allowed us to go in and speak to the whole school and do some workshops.”
They then extended their message to the two Chichester High Schools, whose students use the train station, and Bishop Luffa School, which has a gated crossing point nearby.
“Hopefully the students will go home and spread the word to their parents, as it’s not just young people offending it’s vehicles as well,” she said.
CRSAT is working on its next project for the next school year to take a theatre workshop around schools showing the affects of crossing misuse.
Network Rail spokesman Gary Gaskart said: “The event was very much on raising awareness.
“We had a team who were talking to pedestrians and motorists who were at the crossing about general safety, how to use them and the dangers of misusing them.
“There was one vehicle that went through, which I believe will have been prosecuted.
“And that vehicle went through despite us having a very high-visible presence there.”
Network Rail has been using a camera van at a number of locations around the south east in an attempt to catch offenders in the act.
In West Sussex, there have been 146 offences caught by the van, with the biggest group of offenders being women aged 50-65.
Men aged 50-65 account for 19 per cent, which is the second highest number of offences.
This means this age group alone is responsible for 47 per cent of the misuse caught on camera across the south east.
For more information about level crossing safety visit www.networkrail.co.uk/levelcrossings, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.