British Transport Police and Network Rail have been staging a week-long operation to stop motorists misusing Oakham’s level crossing.
The move follows a worrying rise in the number of motorists caught on camera putting lives at risk by jumping the red lights.
Between April 1, 2012, and March 31, 2013, a total of 94 offences were recorded at the crossing. The figure dropped to 74 in 2013/14, but then rose to 171 in 2015/16. Since April 1 this year, there have already been 133 offences recorded, prompting the authorities to take action.
British Transport Police officers have been at the crossing all week, speaking to motorists as they queue up at the barriers.
A Level Crossing Mobile Safety Vehicle equipped with CCTV cameras and automatic number plate recognition technology has also been in use at the site.
Inspector Mark Rushin said he fears it is only a matter of time before someone is killed unless motorists change their behaviour.
He said: “This is a busy crossing with around 1,000 vehicles passing through every hour and we have seen an alarming rise in the number of motorists who think it is acceptable to ignore the red lights and alarm and carry on driving over the crossing.
“This is clearly extremely dangerous and could easily result in fatalities or even a derailment.
“Throughout the week we have been monitoring vehicles passing through the crossing and, when the barriers are down, taking the opportunity to speak to motorists and stress the importance of following the rules.”
Around 80 trains a day go through Oakham. Network Rail’s community safety manager Hayley Bull said they pass through at up to 75mph.
She said: “Some of the freight trains passing through here weigh 4,000 tonnes. If that hit a vehicle which skipped the lights the consequences could be appalling – that’s why we’re here all week with British Transport Police to educate drivers about the very real dangers of taking chances at level crossings.”
In January, Rafael Pruban, 41, from Yeovil, was given a suspended prison sentence after admitting dangerous driving.
He drove a car transporter over the crossing when the lights were flashing – smashing through a barrier.