Wem, United Kingdom: New crossing controls imminent

24 Sep

WEm level crossing showing proximity of road junctions. Source: GoogleEarth

WEm level crossing showing proximity of road junctions. Source: GoogleEarth

Network Rail is currently system testing the new level crossing equipment installed at the level crossing in Wem, Shropshire, which will allow it to be controlled remotely. At present the crossing is operated by the on-site signaller, but will in future be controlled from the signalling centre in Cardiff, more than 100 miles distant.

To allow the changed control arrangements to apply, Network Rail has installed CCTV cameras and also an obstacle detector. Normally, the level crossing will operate automatically with human intervention following the detection of an obstruction on the crossing. This will be via the CCTV camera system and then manually clearing the signal for the train to proceed over the level crossing if the level crossing is clear of any obstruction.

The same type of equipment has previously been installed on the route between Ely and Norwich. However, not all has been plain sailing as the equipment at Brandon has repeatedly detected smaller objects than intended with the result that the crossing has been closed to road traffic for extended periods. This crossing has both attracted the attention of two members of parliament and has been taken out of service pending modification. This has in turn been challenged by the Office of Rail Regulation serving an Improvement Notice.

in so far as the level crossing in Wem is concerned, there is the added dimension of a significant road junction in very close proximity on both sides of the level crossing (see image). These junctions contribute to the level crossing experiencing road traffic blocking back over the railway as vehicles wait to turn right immediately after the level crossing. The number of motorists who enter the level crossing before their exit from the crossing is clear is significant. This highlights the need for education and enforcement action to drive home the message that entering the crossing before there is a clear exit for your vehicle constitutes misuse.

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