Mother hits out over rail crossings

12:27 21 January 2014

Tina Hughes

Tina Hughes

Archant

Network Rail still has a long way to go in closing “incredibly dangerous” level crossings, the mother of a teenage girl killed by a train in Essex has said.

Tina Hughes said she welcomed news that the company has reached its target of closing 10% of Britain’s level crossings - 750 - since 2010 but added that no level crossing could be described as safe.

“They started off with 7,500 and are now down to around about 6,500 - they have got a long way to go,” she told BBC Breakfast.

“They are never going to be able to close them all of course. Obviously closing all level crossings is really diifficult because sometimes there is opposition to closures, people want to keep footpath crossings or whatever,” she said.

“They have done a lot but there is a long way to go.

“Level crossings are incredibly dangerous places.”

Ms Hughes’s daughter, Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and her friend, Charlotte Thompson, 13, were hit by a train in 2005 as they crossed the tracks at Elsenham station footpath crossing.

She was speaking as Network Rail announced that it has invested £131 million in a national level crossings improvement programme since 2010.

The company has pledged to close a further 500 crossings in the next five years, investing more than £100 million over this period as part of its programme of work to improve safety.

Robin Gisby, Network Rail managing director of network operations, said: “Britain’s railway is safer than ever before, but even so there will always be a certain level of risk to motorists or pedestrians where a road, footpath or cycleway crosses the tracks. Network Rail is committed to reduce that risk as much as possible and, if we are able to close a level crossing, we will.

“Reaching our target to close 750 crossings in four years is good news for Network Rail, train operators and of course the public, but we cannot be complacent.”

Ian Prosser, director of railway safety at the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), said that for National Rail to remove 750 level crossings, 10 per cent of their total in Britain, by April 2014 was “a significant achievement for the company”.

“Though Britain’s level crossings are among the safest in Europe, there is no room for complacency,” he said.

“They still pose a significant risk to the public and ORR has recently announced millions of pounds’ worth of extra funding for Network Rail to close or upgrade level crossings in the next five years.”

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