Polegate MP fights on for safety improvements at level crossing

Maria Caulfield meeting Network Rail officials at Polegate level crossing
Maria Caulfield meeting Network Rail officials at Polegate level crossing

An MP has met with senior rail staff to discuss Polegate level crossing following an accident that saw an 89-year-old woman struck by the barrier and trapped inside.

Violet Tarrant was about to step off the crossing when it hit her on the head – knocking her to the floor and leaving her terrified a train was about to hit her on November 17.

Since, her daughter Gill Clare says a once independent Mrs Tarrant has completely lost her confidence and become almost housebound.

Maria Caulfield MP has been calling on Network Rail to extend the warning time before the barriers close and install extra safety measures due to the high number of disabled and elderly people in Polegate who regularly use the crossing.

The Polegate MP met with Network Rail’s South East Managing Director, and Clive Rodie, Polegate Level Crossing Manager, to watch the barriers being tested for safety and the ability to detect objects on the line.

Walking the crossing with the managing director, she said it was clear more time needs to be given to allow pedestrians to cross before the barriers come down.

She said Network Rail have agreed to look at this as well as discussing what can be done to increase safety for the elderly and disabled in Polegate, to ensure that there are no further injuries at the crossing.

Ms Caulfield said, “What happened to Mrs Tarrant should not have been able to happen and so I have met with senior staff from Network Rail to show them the crossing and to watch how many of its users are mobility impaired.

“Many people were taking much longer to cross than the warning give before the barriers close, meaning another accident was waiting to happen.”

“I have been reassured by my meeting with Network Rail that they will put in extra time before the barriers to close, to allow less mobile residents to get across but I was also relieved to see that even when the barriers do close, they will reopen and the train will be stopped if there is any object detected on the line.

“This should give reassurance to residents that more time will be allowed for crossing and that there are measures in place to halt a train arriving if the crossing is not clear, even once the barriers have come down.”