VILLAGE residents are being warned about the dangers of level crossings after half a dozen "serious incidents of misuse" were reported in the past year.

Network Rail Scotland and British Transport Police (BTP) have issued a safety plea to the public on International Level Crossing Awareness Day today (June 10), with a particular focus on a troublesome crossing point in Cardross.

In May, the Reporter revealed ongoing safety fears over the Bainfield Road crossing at the foot of the village, which had been closed for repair work due to a fault with the gates.

One Cardross resident threatened to take bolt cutters to the gates to reopen them – because the crossing is a public right of way.

The gates were eventually reopened but Network Rail, which is responsible for owning, operating and developing Britain's railway infrastructure, says the level crossing on Station Road has been identified as a location with a "worrying history of misuse".

In 2017, analysis of “near miss” information found the Bainfield level crossing to be one of the most dangerous in Scotland, and there were reports made to Network Rail that children were climbing over the gates to use the crossing, causing danger as trains continue to use the rail tracks on the other side of the gate.

Since July 2020 there have been six serious incidents of misuse reported at the crossing including motorists jumping the lights, vehicles striking the barriers and a pedestrian crossing while the barriers were coming down.

Dumbarton's MSP Jackie Baillie, who’s constituency covers the crossing, said: “I am delighted that Network Rail Scotland and the British Transport Police have teamed up to raised awareness of an issue as important as the correct use of level crossings.

“It cannot be stressed enough how vital it is that these crossings are not misused, including the level crossing within my own constituency at Cardross. 

"The theme of this year’s International Level Crossing Awareness Day could not be more accurate – ‘distraction kills’.

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter: The safety campaign encourages everyone to be alert around level crossingsThe safety campaign encourages everyone to be alert around level crossings

“I encourage everyone to take some time to be aware of the important do’s and dont's of using level crossings. 

"As lockdown eases and train services become more frequent again, it is paramount that we all know what we can each do to keep ourselves and others safe.”

Liam Sumpter, Network Rail route director for Scotland, said: “Misusing a level crossing can be incredibly dangerous. 

"By paying attention to the warnings at crossings and avoiding distractions, we can all keep ourselves out of harm’s way.

“We work closely with British Transport Police to raise awareness of the dangers of misusing crossings and with local councils and other stakeholders to educate the public on how to stay safe near the railway.”

BTP temporary chief superintendent Gill Murray said: “Each year, hundreds of people take risks on and around the railway, resulting in tragic consequences and life-changing injuries.

“We are continuing to proactively patrol the railway network across Scotland.

"Safety is our number one priority and we’re reminding everyone of the importance of taking care around the railway and that everyone loses when you step on the track.”