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New trains investigated after shocking near miss with car at level crossing

PUBLISHED: 15:13 06 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:30 03 January 2020

One of Greater Anglia's new trains came within a quarter of a second of hitting a car in Thorpe End.Inset: Jamie BurlesPicture: Greater Anglia/Archant

One of Greater Anglia's new trains came within a quarter of a second of hitting a car in Thorpe End.Inset: Jamie BurlesPicture: Greater Anglia/Archant

Greater Anglia/Archant

A safety investigation has been launched after one of Greater Anglia's new trains came within a quarter of a second of ploughing into a car at a level crossing.

And it was this incident which led to more than a week's worth of disruption to services between Norwich and the north Norfolk coast.

On Saturday, November 24 at around 7.53pm one of Greater Anglia's new class 755 train was approaching the Norwich Road automatic barrier level crossing at Thorpe End, on its journey between Norwich and Sheringham.

The barriers were lowered into position with the train travelling around 45mph and around 200m away.

However, the barriers then lifted, the warning lights went out and traffic proceeded over the crossing - with the train still fast approaching.

The driver sounded its horn and slammed on its brakes, but could not stop - missing a passing car by just a quarter of a second.

Now, investigators from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch will be tasked with establishing how the near miss occurred - and whether it could be linked to the new fleet of trains.

A RAIB spokesman said: "The level crossing equipment was installed in 2000 and includes a predictor system which detects the speed of approaching trains so that the time intervals between barriers being lowered and a train arriving is similar for all trains, irrespective of their speed.

"The train was part of a new fleet which had been operating passenger services on this line since November 6, 2019."

The investigation will establish whether the designs of the predictor system and the trains themselves could have contributed towards the incident.

James Burles, Greater Anglia managing director said: "As soon as this incident occurred we agreed to run our trains at a reduced speed on the Norwich to Sheringham line while Network Rail examined all level crossings and the rails on this line."

Mark Budden, Network Rail Anglia route director, said: "As the RAIB has noted, we have already taken measures to modify the crossing barrier equipment in order to prevent a similar inicdent occurring.
"We have also imposed a 20mph speed restriction across the six similar crossings on the Norwich to Cromer to Sheringham line to ensure the safety of passengers and all those using the crossings."

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