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Network Rail has teamed up with the NFU to help keep farmers and their workers safe at level crossings this harvest.

In the past five years there have been more than 100 near-miss incidents at crossings on farmland and four instances of trains striking farm vehicles.

Last year saw the number of near misses jump 47% from 15 to 22 incidents, a reversal on years of steady decline.

See also: Driver survives after tractor sliced in two by train

Therefore, in an effort to reverse this disturbing trend, a new campaign has been launched to remind farmers of safety rules when using level crossings.

For the campaign, posters and booklets that can be used around farm to remind how to use crossings safely have been produced.

The material reminds farmworkers of the importance of:

  • Using the telephones at level crossings to check that it is safe to cross
  • Remembering to close the gates at level crossings after use so others
  •  don’t mistakenly think it is safe to cross
  • Clearing the crossing as quickly as possible, particularly when moving
  •  livestock across it.

Network Rail’s 100 level-crossing managers will be working closely with their local NFU branches to deliver a programme of education for farmers and their workers.

This will be carried out over the coming months, targeting those working at harvest this season and next year.

NFU vice-president Guy Smith said: “We appreciate farmers are often under pressure during busy periods, but would urge them to be extra vigilant, ensuring that all safety procedures are followed strictly and all workers on their farms are well-informed.

“With more than 100 near-miss incidents at level crossings on farmland since 2010, we recognise the importance of such a campaign and hope that our members will be better informed as a result.

“We hope that working with Network Rail level-crossing managers at a local level will not only improve the safety of our members and the public, but also help improve communication and understanding as a whole with our membership.”