Nexus, which owns and manages Metro, has fitted special cameras at two Metro level crossings to catch drivers who run through the red ‘stop’ lights when trains are approaching.
The camera units have been installed at the Kingston Park and Bank Foot Metro level crossings in Newcastle. They are designed to capture a vehicle’s number plate if it passes through when the ‘stop’ warning lights are flashing and the alarm is sounding.
The images are used by the police to prosecute drivers who flout the law and run the red lights. Anyone who gets caught faces a minimum £60 fine and three penalty points added to their driving licence.
In 2008 Nexus erected cameras at its Callerton Parkway level crossing in Newcastle. The cameras at the Bank Foot and Kingston Park crossings are necessary as they are on busy roads, especially in the case of Kingston Park, with its major retail centre.
The cameras, which are similar in appearance to a speed camera, have been approved by the Home Office for use on railway level crossings. Using loops under the road, the cameras will take two photographs of a vehicle’s number plate for evidence.
Nexus Level Crossing Manager, Mike Bennett, said: “We want to deter anyone silly enough to think about jumping the stop lights at level crossings.
“Driving over when the stop warnings are activated is extremely dangerous. The trains may be approaching slowly but they can still do enormous damage at that speed. We want drivers to be aware of the dangers and not take any risks.
“Level crossing safety is of paramount importance. Drivers have a huge responsibility to stay alert when they are approaching them.”
Inspector Dave Gould, of the Northumbria Police Metro Unit, said: “The installation of the cameras will make drivers think twice before making that split second decision which could ultimately put their life and the lives of others at risk. The thought they are being watched and will be fined for breaching the warning lights and sirens will hopefully prevent them from flouting the law. We continue to work together with our partners at Metro to do all we can to keep people safe.”
Nexus owns five level crossings on the Tyne and Wear Metro system. They are located at Bank Foot, Kingston Park and Fawdon in Newcastle and at Howdon in North Tyneside.
The level crossings on the Sunderland line are owned and managed by Network Rail.