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Keep your dog on a lead or you’re on dangerous ground, urges new level crossing campaign

Network Rail

3 min read Partner content

A new campaign urging people to keep their dogs on a lead near level crossings has been launched today by Network Rail in partnership with Dogs Trust, as it revealed there have been more than 180 incidents of near misses* between dog walkers and trains and five fatalities in the past five years.

A safety film lays bare how quickly a dog off the lead can get onto the nearby tracks and a distracted owner can put themselves at risk of a fatal accident by trying to retrieve their pet.

Network Rail has teamed up with Dogs Trust, the UK's largest dog welfare charity, which is supporting the campaign and will be including level crossing safety materials in its rehoming packs for new dog owners handed out at its 20 centres across the country.

A recent survey of dog owners by Dogs Trust revealed:

More than two thirds (68%) acknowledged that their dogs do not always come back when called.
A further 68% admitted they would go after their dog onto a level crossing when a train was coming to try and rescue them.
The majority (71%) underestimated how many dog walkers had been involved in an incident at a level crossing in the past five years.
And whilst most said they kept their dogs on a lead near level crossings, (97%), more than two thirds (68%) admitted they don’t know the locations of level crossings when they are walking their dogs away from home.
The majority of people (95%) backed the idea of an awareness campaign.

Lynn Barber, Dogs Trust Head of Training and Behaviour, comments: “As the UK’s largest dog welfare charity we would like to advise all dog owners who walk near railway lines or level crossings to have your dog on a lead and under control at all times. If your dog likes to chase cars and bikes or is very fearful you should try to avoid walks that are near level crossings. Recall is essential near potentially dangerous situations. There are around 6,100 level crossings still in use across Britain, and although you may be able to read the warning signs, remember – dogs can’t read and it is your responsibility to ensure they are kept safe.”

The campaign will be delivered locally by Network Rail’s 100 dedicated level crossing managers who will aim to link up with dog walking clubs, pet shops, and promote the safety messages at community events, where they can speak directly to level crossing users about their experiences. 

Dog owner and Network Rail level crossing manager Chris Williams explained why he’s backing the campaign: “I know with my two dogs how easily they can run off and how difficult it is sometimes to call them back, so I always keep them on a lead when I’m somewhere busy like a level crossing or a road.  Hundreds of level crossings run through the countryside where it might feel like you’re in a very open area, but you can actually be very close to the railway with trains travelling through at over 100mph.

“It’s my job to keep people safe at level crossings, and across the country we see far too many near misses with trains and people walking their dogs.  I don’t want any of these near misses turning into tragedies and so I urge anyone walking their dog close to a level crossing, to keep them on a lead and keep their pets and themselves safe from harm.”

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