I enjoyed the article "Risk management on the railways" (14 August, Insurance Times).

While I would endorse the view that a wider community approach is desirable, the principal responsibility for level crossing safety must rest with the rail industry and landowners.

The installation of traffic cameras at the problem crossing in West Lothian was not an effective method of risk management.

I presume that the crossing in question has half barriers which do not completely obstruct the road when lowered, thus allowing impatient motorists to pass on the wrong side of the road.

Clearly, this crossing should be upgraded with additional barriers, to ensure that the railway and road are entirely isolated.

The cases of the barriers being ignored would then fall to nil, and the brisk eliminated. Can half-barrier crossings ever be regarded as safe, as they always leave part of the railway unprotected?

As well as the impatient and suicidal, there are also livestock and children to consider, who cannot be expected to appreciate danger.

Most of us will be familiar with traditional gated crossings, which have almost been eliminated on the network.

This system had a number of advantages over the modern system of raised barriers.

The principal two are that the gates completely blocked the road opening when closed, and secondly when the gates had been opened to road traffic they blocked the opening to the railway.

No modern level crossing offers this secondary protection and there have been instances of drivers turning on to the railway having mistaken it for a road junction.

This example of modern practice introducing additional risk compared to the standards observed by our Victorian ancestors.

With regard to the use of foreign workers on land contaning private rail crossings, surely the landowner or farmer has the principal obligation to ensure that workers receive full instruction on the hazards of crossings on their land.

Insurers and brokers have a role to play in this area by ensuring that landowners have appropriate risk assessment and training procedures in place to ensure the safety of both their workers and the traveling public.

Fraser J Guild ACII

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