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Belcarra residents call for action at notorious railway crossing


Ger Flanagan

“ENOUGH is enough.” That’s how the local residents around the notorious unmanned railway crossing at Kilnageer, separating the villages of Belcarra and Breaffy, are feeling after Irish Rail refused to act on their request to erect automated gates at the level crossing once rated the most dangerous in the state.
Last week a community meeting took place at the junction where a new lights system was activated during the week, which has left the residents fearing for their safety as they feel it isn’t adequate.
Local resident and committee member Declan Biggins voiced the concerns of the area over the crossing, which only a number of weeks ago saw a man escape without any serious injuries after his car was struck by a train.
“I honestly don’t know how that person wasn’t killed, especially after seeing the condition the car was in after the accident,” Declan told The Mayo News. “We feel our concerns are not being listened to and the reality is that people do not close the gates.
“Irish Rail, the RSA and the Commission for Railway Regulation brought out an advert recently that showed people how to use these unmanned crossings and it stated that they would only be present on minor roads with low traffic.
“There are 40 houses on this road and a lot have two cars. So on any one day you could have over 60 cars crossing, and that would be a quiet day. Bear in mind if you follow all the instructions, you have to cross the track five times to use the crossing in the proper way.
“The system is also not suitable for the elderly because of the weight of the gates. For example, my father would pass through it to go to the post office as the one in the village of Belcarra has closed. Or there is no way a disabled person could use it either.”
The issue is due to be discussed at this Wednesday’s meeting of the Castlebar Municipal District, where Cllr Cyril Burke has a motion on the agenda for an automated crossing to be erected.
The new lights system erected last week operates on a red and amber light basis, which, Biggins says, has only added to the confusion and danger of the crossing.