The new lights installed by Irish Rail at the notorious Kilnageer railway crossing outside Castlebar, were commissioned yesterday.
However, it remains a manual crossing, despite being located along a busy road that links Belcarra to Breaffy.
It has been the scene of numerous collisions where trains and road vehicles have collided, and local road users insist that the new lighting system does little to make the crossing any safer.
Irish rail insists it has no plans to automate the level crossing at Kilnageer, and rather has commissioned the new lighting system that requires the road user to open 2 sets of gates and to cross a railway line 5 times each time that they want to cross from one side of the line to another.
Today Irish rail have a man standing at the level crossing and he is handing leaflets about the new lights to passing motorists.
Midwest News Editor Teresa O’Malley met two local men- Declan Biggins and David Fadden at the crossing and they outlined some of the many hazards involved in getting across the railway line at Kilnageer.
As you approach the level crossing you now will watch for lights – showing only red or amber, if you don’t see red, you get out of your vehicle and open a sizeable gate that is tied to a roadside fence with string/twine. If you manage that, you then cross the railway line by foot and open the other gate on the opposite side, then get back into car and drive to the white line, at this point you have passed the new lights – you can’t physically see them, you look left and right and drive over to the other side of the road across the railway line and then go back and close both gates again.
Approaching the railway crossing from the Castlebar side, the new installed light – is actually almost impossible to see, as an old Irish Rail pillar is in your line of vision.
The fact that there is no green light, only red or amber, is also rather confusing to the road user. Green usually means it’s safe to go for a road user, but there’s no green light at Kilnageer at all, in this new lighting system.
The local campaign to get this level crossing automated is continuing, the matter is to be raised at next week’s monthly meeting of Castlebar Municipal District. Local cllr Cyril Burke has it as an item on the agenda.
But just a few weeks ago, following a collision between the train and a road user at Kilnageer, where thankfully no life threatening injuries were sustained, Midwest News contacted Irish Rail and we were told there are no plans to automate the crossing. We were told at that time that the new lighting system would be commissioned before the end of May.