Safety fears raised over crossings after Knaresborough train crash

Copyright Ben Lack Photography LtdA tractor driver who has had a lucky escape Flaxby, North Yorkshire after being hit at a level crossing by a train.Pic Ben Lack/ Malik Walton

Copyright Ben Lack Photography LtdA tractor driver who has had a lucky escape Flaxby, North Yorkshire after being hit at a level crossing by a train.Pic Ben Lack/ Malik Walton

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Fears have been raised over unmanned crossings on the York to Harrogate line after a tractor was sliced in half by a train on Thursday, May 14.

An investigation is still underway after the 5.29pm service from Leeds to York via Harrogate collided with the tractor on the railway crossing at Oakwood Farm, Flaxby.

British Transport Police (BTP) confirmed that, despite the tractor driver being taken to hospital with minor injuries, both drivers and all passengers escaped serious injuries.

Det Insp Glen Anderson from the BTP said that an investigation was still ongoing to try and decipher the ‘full circumstances’ of the incident.

He said: “Our enquiries are continuing to determine how a train collided with a tractor on a farm crossing in Knaresborough on Thursday evening.

“Colleagues from North Yorkshire Police, Yorkshire Ambulance Service and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service also attended the incident and all passengers were safely removed from the train.

“We are now working to establish the full circumstances surrounding the collision and will be taking full statements from the tractor and train driver, and any witnesses to the incident.”

The incident has raised concerns about user-worked crossings as BTP also revealed that they have been called to 30 incidents at crossings on the line over the past 12 months.

A user-worked crossing is one where the user opens and shuts the gates.

On the Oakwood Farm crossing in particular, Network Rail revealed that there had been nine incidents of ‘misuse’ in the 12 months prior to assessment in November 2014 and one incident since.

There was also one near miss at the crossing when a HGV driver narrowly avoided hitting a train on November 5 with the driver being forced to apply the emergency brake.

Network Rail said they have already closed 20 user-worked crossings in North Yorkshire but warned there were 162 still in use in the county.

A spokesman for the company said they were working with landowners to ‘close even more’ in a move that was welcomed by North Yorkshire’s executive member for integrated passenger transport Don Mackenzie.

He said: “We rely on the drivers of road vehicles to take care when they are using these level crossings.

“I don’t know what has caused it but obviously something went wrong.

“I would support any measure that Network Rail decided to take that meant that this sort of incident doesn’t happen again.

“It’s not only the risk to the vehicle’s driver, it’s the risk of the train driver and the passengers on the train when this sort of accident happens.”