Locking system could have saved life

First published in News

NETWORK RAIL did not believe a level crossing in Herefordshire, involved in a fatal collision, needed extra protection, a court heard.

Jane Harding, who was a hairdresser in Bosbury, died when the car she was travelling in was in collision with a train at the Moreton-on-Lugg crossing in January 2010.

The 52-year-old’s husband Mark, driving, survived the crash.

Prosecutor Philip Mott told the jury at Birmingham Crown Court Adrian Maund became distracted when a farmer rang his signalbox asking if it was safe to walk his sheep across a crossing near Wellington.

However, Mr Mott said Maund’s fatal mistake would have been averted if Network Rail had installed an approach locking system, which would have cost less than £40,000.

David Jones, principal level crossing engineer for Network Rail, told the court the crossing at Moreton-on-Lugg was not mentioned during a meeting in 2007 with the Office of Rail Regulation when discussing which crossings should be improved.

He added installing an approach locking system at the crossing was not discussed at the meeting.

The court heard at the time Mr Jones was in charge of a level crossing specialist team that was looking to develop new technology and improve level crossings currently in operation.

Mr Jones said this included developing obstacle detection technology that would prevent trains travelling over a level crossing if an obstacle was there.

In a police interview that was read out at the court, Maund said that he lifted the barriers because he thought that the train from Leominster had already passed because cars were still waiting at the crossing.

Maund, aged 43, from Caswell Crescent, Leominster, has denied not taking reasonable care for the health and safety of railway and railway crossing users by raising the barriers when unsafe to do so.

Network Rail has also pleaded not guilty to a separate charge of failing in its duty of care of the health and safety of railway and railway crossing users by not installing an approach locking system.

The trial continues.

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