Families living in fear of fatality at level crossing

Paul Healy  Two families who live beside an unmanned level crossing in Donamon have expressed fears this week that a fatal accident could occur at the location if Iarnrod Eireann does not take action.    Backed by Councillors Martin Connaughton and Tony Waldron, the two Conlon families have raised their concerns with Iarnrod Eireann but say that there is no sign of any action being taken. Iarnrod Eireann previously indicated to the Roscommon People that instructions are in place at the crossing and that it is imperative that local people familiarise themselves with how to operate the gates.     The level crossing at Slieve, Donamon is not ‘manned’ in that there is no gatehouse there. It is not automated and there are no warning lights  – the gates have to be manually opened and closed several times each day and local schoolchildren have to cross the railway line on foot because their schoolbus drops them off on one side of the crossing while their homes are on the opposite side.    ‘We are at our wit’s end’ Michelle Conlon told the Roscommon People, adding that a fatal accident occurred at that very location eleven years ago. Michelle says that the families living adjacent to the crossing are fearful that their children could be involved in a serious accident at any time.    Gerry and Michelle Conlon have four children, Sarah (10), Amy (8), Ciara (5) and Dylan (3). Gerry’s brother Martin and his wife, Nuala, have two children, Ian (9) and Chloe (7). The two families live side by side a few hundred metres from the busy level crossing.    Last week the families told the Roscommon People about their ongoing fears. Leaving it to the public to open and shut the gates is not acceptable, they say, especially when there are so many children nearby and given that the schoolbus cannot cross the line.    Michelle Conlon told the Roscommon People: ‘It’s very frightening. You have trains passing here from Castlebar to Dublin and a tragedy could happen at any time. The schoolbus drops the children off on one side of the gates and we have to be here every day to meet them and make sure they can cross safely. The kids can’t open the gates themselves. The bus can’t cross the railway line.’    Michelle added that her son Dylan (3) was about to start playschool last week and she is now at her wit’s end.    The families point out that a nearby level crossing at Emlagh Royan has only about six houses beside it, yet it is ‘manned’ by a gatehouse. Nuala Conlon says that even though there are twenty houses within close proximity of the Slieve crossing it’s left to anyone using the gates to open and shut them and to be beware of any oncoming trains. Instructions to that effect are in place but there’s no automation and no lighting.    Michelle Conlon alludes to the tragic death of a young Co. Longford woman eleven years ago which occurred at Slieve crossing when she was struck by a train as she travelled in her car. Michelle says there were no signs in place before that accident but they were erected subsequently.    Nuala concludes: ‘This is just too frightening. We want lights and a barrier. There’s a lot of traffic here and we are just waiting for an accident to happen. It’s a nightmare when there’s fog. Iarnrod Eireann have to act fast.’