Johnstown tragedy rail crossing might be closed after 'near miss'


Garth ApThomas

A level crossing where a teenage girl died more than seven years ago might now be closed after another two teenagers were almost struck by a train there.

Two 13-year-old girls survived a “near miss” on the crossing at Bangor Road, Johnstown, last week.

In January 2007, 14-year-old Victoria Swift, of Rhos, was killed by a train at the same part of the track.

Johnstown councillor David A Bithell, who works for Network Rail, said it was a “very close call” for the teenagers involved on Thursday.

He said someone else could be killed there if action were not taken at the crossing, where trains can speed through at 70mph.

And now Network Rail has said the crossing has been identified for possible closure.

“We have identified this crossing as being potentially suitable for closure and we are discussing with stakeholders,” a spokesman said.

“In the meantime, we have visited a neighbouring school to educate pupils on the dangers posed by level crossings and we are looking at further engagement with local children and young people.”

The spokesman added: “Closing a level crossing is not a straightforward process and we need the support of the local authority and the neighbouring community to do so.”

As a result of last week’s incident, Cllr Bithell has pleaded with parents to speak to their children and reinforce the message about dangers of railways in order to prevent another death.

He said he was deeply concerned to hear of the latest near miss, which immediately reminded him of the tragedy in 2007.

“That night will never be forgotten. I hope we never see another incident like this and the effects it had on the family, the community and the train driver, who never worked again,” he said.

“On Thursday we had a near miss at the crossing, a very close call. Someone is going to be killed on there if action is not taken.

“The main issue is it is a public right-of-way, but there’s a public footbridge 200 metres away, which can be used.

“Trains travel along there at 70 mph – it’s dangerous.

“I don’t know why kids want to go and play up there but they are doing, and I think the schools and parents need to put warnings out to their children of the dangers.

“I am pleased that Wrexham Council are working with Network Rail and looking at closing this crossing, which will reduce the significant risk of anybody else being killed by a train.”

North Wales Police and British Transport Police have asked schools and parents to remind children of the dangers of playing on railway level crossing and lines as the summer holidays approach.

A British Transport Police (BTP) spokesman said: “Officers attended a foot crossing near Bangor Road, Johnstown, Wrexham, on Thursday, July 10, after a report from a member of public of children trespassing on the tracks. The incident was reported to police at 7.49pm.

“Two girls, both aged 13, were spoken to by officers at the scene and their details taken, before being returned home.”

Sgt Karl Anderson, from BTP, said: “Incidents such as this are a great concern to us.
“For some reason children seem to be drawn to the railway and, when they are there, are oblivious to the potential dangers.

“Sadly, time after time, we receive reports of youngsters trespassing on the railway, whether to take a shortcut or just out of curiosity.

“Whatever the reason, the potential for serious harm remains and, unfortunately, we have seen the tragic consequences with a number of incidents in which young people have lost their lives.”

Wrexham Council were unavailable to comment. Anyone who sees children trespassing on the railways is urged to call BTP on 0800 405040 or text 61016.

See full story in the Leader

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