NETWORK RAIL insists a West Fife level crossing is safe despite 33 faults being reported in the last five years.

Locals had expressed concerns after barriers in Halbeath had stuck in the up position despite the red lights flashing.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request from Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman revealed the worrying number of incidents but he said only seven of these would have affected the public.

Mr Chapman has met engineers and staff from Network Rail who allayed his concerns, explaining that a train would never enter a level crossing when the system reports a fault which results in the barrier remaining open.

“Initially, I was very concerned about the incidents reported earlier on this year at the Halbeath level crossing and the danger that could pose to the public when the barriers were stuck in the raised position which was very disconcerting for those driving over the crossing," said Mr Chapman.

“However, having now spoken to the Network Rail team, I am reassured that all safety measures have been taken to put public safety first when it comes to these incidents.

“Due to the very nature of the gates being mechanical, faults can happen, but we can all be safe in the knowledge that if it does occur again, and on the rare occasion that it does, then Network Rail will respond quickly to any fault identified on their system.

"The response team are based at Inverkeithing and can get to Halbeath to fix a problem within 10 minutes depending on other commitments across the network.

“I know entering the Halbeath level crossing can present some anxiety for some but I was reassured by the Network Rail team and their level of professionalism in keeping everyone safe whether they are trackside, using a level crossing or on a train."

In their response to the FoI, Network Rail said the faults would have caused "inconvenience to motorists and pedestrians" but added that at "no point" could a train have been signalled towards the crossing without the barriers being in the lowered position.

They said that most of the faults were rectified quickly.

"The response time normally ranges from 10 minutes up to around 30 minutes, except on occasions when another fault has happened at the same time," stated the response.