Gates at railway station where teenage girls were killed are finally fixed

PUBLISHED: 08:15 21 September 2018

Elsenham railway station. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Elsenham railway station. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

SaffronPhoto 2016

An automatic locking gate for pedestrians at Elsenham level crossing, installed after two teenage girls were killed by a train at the station in 2005, has finally been fixed by Network Rail after being out of action for five months.

The gate was put in place following the death of schoolgirls Charlotte Thompson, 13, and Olivia Bazlinton, 14, who were hit by a train at the station on December 3, 2005.

The Reporter revealed last week that the gate had not been working for five months because replacement parts were not available.

Olivia’s mother Tina Hughes, who has been campaigning for safer level crossings since her daughter’s death, said she was appalled to hear the gate was out of action.

A risk assessment carried out by Network Rail in 2002 identified the potential dangers with the crossing and it was recommended installing a set of gates that would lock automatically as trains approached, but they were never installed.

The automatic locking gates were finally installed in August 2007 following a recommendation by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, and a footbridge was also put up at the station.

Network Rail was prosecuted in 2012 for breaching health and safety laws and fined £1million for the incident in which the two girls were killed.

It is not the first time the gates have broken down. In 2015, it also came to light that the gates had malfunctioned.

Speaking to the Reporter last week, Rupert Lown, Network Rail’s director of safety for Anglia, said: “Firstly I want to apologise that the pedestrian gates at Elsenham level crossing are broken and assure everyone that safety is our priority.

“When faults occur, we seek to fix them as soon as possible, but the replacement parts for these gates are no longer available.

“We have found a solution and ordered new parts and are hoping to have the gates back in use in the next couple of weeks if installation goes well. I am also carrying out a full investigation into why this repair has taken so long to learn what improvements we can make in the long term to further improve safety at the crossing.”

Last Friday, a spokesman for Network Rail confirmed that the crossing has been fixed so the pedestrian gates can now be used.

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