Level crossing nightmare for trapped rider

Calls for rail crossing to be repaired with all speed

by Tom Henry   July 10, 2009  

level crossing sign.jpg

It’s a nightmare scenario – the one where the wheel of your beloved bike is wedged firmly into a level crossing and sooner or later a train is going to turn it into scrap metal…..

That’s what happened to cyclist Tony Callen as he negotiated a level crossing near his home in Havant, Hampshire. His front wheel became stuck in a crack, he was thrown off and then, despite pain from a facial injury, had to haul his bike out of the gap before a train came round the bend.

He now wants Network Rail to mend the crack in the crossing immediately, before someone else finds themselves the victim of a freak accident.

The 71-year-old retired lecturer, who suffered injuries after landing on his face, said: “We were riding along the road when suddenly I found myself on my face. The front wheel of the bike had simply gone down a hole in the road.

“Luckily, I had a friend with me to help, but what if someone was alone and knocked unconscious? Roads are not designed to have slits that take bikes down with them.

“My helmet basically saved me. I was very lucky.”

Mr Callen informed the authorities on June 8 about the accident, but so far nothing has been done to rectify the problem.

Gary Gaskarth, spokesman for Network Rail, said the tracks are inspected every six months. He said: “When the concrete slabs between the rails are laid, there are no spaces between them.

“However, there are some factors, such as vibrations from train movements, which can cause small gaps to form.

'This sort of thing is picked up in the regular inspections we carry out on all our level crossings, but unfortunately the gap at Inlands Road level crossing appears to have formed between inspections.

'We will take action to close the gap as soon as possible and apologise to Mr Callen for any distress caused by this accident.'