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Anorak | Network Rail killed Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson – on the level

Network Rail killed Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson – on the level

by | 30th, January 2012

THE Times reports that state-funded private company Network Rail will admit responsibility for the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13, when the case comes before the Beak at Magistrates’ Court. The teenagers were killed on a village level crossing in Elsenham, Essex on December 3 2005.

Last weekend, 15-year-old Katie Littlewood, from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, was killed at the Johnson’s Footpath Crossing.

In 2001, John Hudd, the level crossing manager at Elsenham in 2001, wrote a report to Network Rail. It stated:

“The sighting to trains in either direction is very poor and the risk of disaster is real”.

Network Rail did not act on that advice.

Hudd said the pedestrian gates could be locked when the train was approaching.

Nothing was done.

Hudd noted:

“I have quite serious reservations about the arrangements which are in place for pedestrians . . . the temptation to cross behind the train (even though the lights may still be red possibly for another train approaching) are to many irresistible. The sighting to trains in either direction is very poor and the risk of disaster is real… What makes the whole thing . . . undesirably risky is the large numbers of users (which includes a lot of schoolchildren).”

In May 2002, a risk assessment recommended that Network Rail consider locking the pedestrian gates at Elsenham crossing.

At the 2007 inquest, Joe Carriman, said:

“The express was so close. You could hardly see it until it was right on top of you. It happened so quickly. I didn’t think they would go across. I couldn’t believe it. There was no time for me to issue a warning… I don’t know what the bosses will do. I think they should lock the pedestrian gate as they did the main gate.”

He was not alone in that thought.

Chris Bazlinton, Olivia’s father, said: “If the gates had been locked in December the girls would be alive now,”

The accident that killed the two teenage girls on a day out should have been avoided. The 2002 report was not presented to the coroner’s court. The Essex coroner, Caroline Beasley-Murray, recorded a verdict of accidental death after a five-day inquest in 2007.

The Times leader wrote:

The neglect of a serious risk assessment is a dereliction of duty. Network Rail then made it worse still by declining to make the report available to the rail regulator, government inspectors or the coroner. In the inquest, the lawyers acting for Network Rail won the right to exclude the evidence of an expert witness on the ground that it was too complex for lay jurors to understand. The conclusion of the report is, in fact, perfectly comprehensible, if unpalatable to Network Rail: “I would not consider Network Rail’s risk assessment methodologies … to be suitable and sufficient,” wrote Iain Furguson in the executive summary of his report for the Health and Safety Laboratory.

Who saw the Hudd report and did not act on it? Who decided that the report should not be made available at the inquest? Is it about the money? Bonuses paid to Network Rail executives are tied to the company’s safety performance.

The company denies that it withheld the information.

Phillip Pank wrote:

Network Rail submitted documents to the coroner showing that inspectors had visited the Elsenham crossing on May 23, 2002. There is no trace

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Posted: 30th, January 2012 | In: Key Posts, News Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink