Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has called on Network Rail to start this year to replace dangerous level crossing in the North of Scotland.
Mr Gibson’s call came during a member’s debate proposed by SNP MSP for Kilmarnock and Loudon Willie Coffey on the conduct of inquiries into fatalities at level crossings. Following recent fatalities in Halkirk and Kilmarnock.
“We need to seek a safe environment for rail and road users alike. Network Rail must do much more than it has done. It says that it seeks to develop, in the plans that run alongside last year's media campaign.
"Solutions which could lead to the replacement of some crossings".
"It must start in the north of Scotland and it must start this year.
He also said that Fatal Accident Inquiries need to be changed so they the public could get a clearer picture of the issue.
“It is obvious that the rail regulatory bodies did not take seriously the Cullen inquiry and that FAIs in Scotland must be central to the way in which we address the matter. Transparent records and responses are needed. An FAI can provide those and may follow them up. I would like to know, for example, what effect Network Rail's placing of cameras at the Dingwall crossings has had on driver behaviour. I could ask many other questions, but that is important to know.”
He also asked….
“Network Rail….says that it spends more than £80 million improving the safety of level crossings each year. How much of that £80 million is spent on the most vulnerable crossings? In addition, we need to know how much of the millions of pounds that Network Rail claims it spends on maintenance and renewal programmes is spent on the most vulnerable crossings.
Mr Gibson said due to the trauma that train drivers after they’ve hit a vehicle at a level crossing then it was understandable why the Union would want a go slow over vulnerable crossings. However he said that the increase of journey times would also make the trains themselves less viable.
Speaking after M r Gibson said he was impressed with the debate and welcomed the suggestions made by Willie Coffey and the response to the debate by the Minister.
“Accidents in the North of Scotland are increasing with more devastating effects. It is time that Network Rail starts to invest quickly to help improve the safety for road users and rail users alike .
"It is also time that FAI’s are changed to take into account the bigger picture of the incident. I look forward to changes coming soon.