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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 February 2007, 14:00 GMT
Top Gear screens train crash item
Staged train crash
The stunt showed a locomotive hitting a car at 70mph
A stunt involving a staged train accident at a level crossing has been broadcast on the BBC despite the Cumbrian crash.

The dramatic incident was created by rail operator Network Rail for the Top Gear programme.

It is part of a 3m campaign by the company to increase safety awareness at level crossings.

The BBC had considered pulling the item from Sunday night's episode, but later said it would be shown.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: "We are going ahead as planned with tonight's programme which includes an item on the dangers at level crossings.

"There will be an announcement before the programme to alert viewers that there is an item about railway safety."

'Don't run the risk'

The "accident" featured a locomotive hitting a people carrier at 70mph on a line in rural Lincolnshire.

It is the first staged accident to be held in over a decade.

Network Rail organised it as part of their Don't Run The Risk campaign, said to be the most extensive public safety programme ever run by the rail industry.

Carol Bell, vice-chair of the Safe Trains Action Group said: "I'm not sure it's a good idea. I do understand the programme itself has been through something like this with Richard Hammond.

"But there's a poor woman who's lost her life, and her family is still injured. I just think it's a bit insensitive at the moment"

And Anthony Smith, chief executive of the rail watchdog Passenger Focus, added: "We need to raise awareness of the issue, but now is not the right time."

'Hot spots'

There are 7,674 level crossings in the UK and 96% of accidents there are caused by misuse, with drivers ignoring red signals, barriers and klaxons.

Level crossing incidents
73% of people killed at crossings are men
67% of victims are aged 31 or over
Misuse peaks in summer months and in daylight hours during rush hour

Deaths at level crossings in the UK are low compared with world standards, but Network Rail says misuse is the single biggest risk on the rail network.

It has put up roadside posters close to high risk "hot spots" and has run adverts in newspapers, on radio and television and in cinemas.

In 2004, seven people died when a high-speed London to Plymouth train hit a car parked on a level crossing at Ufton Nervet in Berkshire.

And on Sunday, a train and a car collided at a level crossing near Whitland in Carmarthenshire.

No-one was hurt and accident investigators are trying to establish what happened.


SEE ALSO
Train in level crossing collision
25 Feb 07 |  South West Wales
Man dies in level crossing crash
23 Feb 07 |  Glasgow and West

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