By Lord Faulkner of Worcester - 15th March 2012
Level crossings remain the one major risk to railway safety, says Lord Faulkner of Worcester.
Rail travel is now safer than it has ever been, and there are more people travelling by train than at any time since 1922. Yet there remains one major risk to the railway's safe operation.
This comes not from the train operators but from motorists and other road users, who continue to take risks at railway level crossings, jumping red lights and weaving around the road barriers.
Network Rail are engaged in a massive £131 million programme to improve level crossing safety, supported by a big advertising campaign. Sometimes this can be done simply and cheaply by closing pedestrian crossings across the tracks. But it's more complicated with road crossings. Here it's necessary to ensure that there is proper enforcement of traffic signals and punishment for road users who flout them.
I am asking the government what they are doing to support Network Rail's efforts. In particular I want to know why they are not giving more support to the trialling and introduction of red light enforcement cameras. I am told that the Home Office can take up to two years to test and approve a product for railway level crossings which is already in widespread use on motorways and A roads.
Richard Faulkneris a co-founder of The House Magazine. He was raised to the peerage in 1999 and he sits on the Labour benches.