A SIGNALMAN who raised the barriers at a Herefordshire level crossing that led to a fatal collision has told a court that he is deeply sorry for his error.

Adrian Maund said that he lifted the barriers at Moreton-on-Lugg in January 2010 because he thought that a train from Leominster had already passed because cars were still waiting at the crossing and their engines were revving.

Jane Harding, a hairdresser from Marden, died when the car she was in was in collision with the Manchester to Milford Haven train.

The 52-year-old's husband Mark, who was driving the car, survived.

"I feel very sorry that the accident happened and very sorry for the people involved," Maund told Birmingham Crown Court yesterday.

"I deeply regret that the accident happened and it has badly affected me over the three years."

The court heard that Maund became distracted after he received a telephone call from a farmer asking him if he could cross his flock of sheep at a crossing near Wellington.

But Maund, who joined Network Rail in 1991, said that he did not receive extra training to cope with the extra volume of trains that now pass Moreton-on-Lugg, many of which travel up to 85mph.

He added that he also did not know that an approach locking system was not in place at the crossing.

The court has heard that the system, which would have cost around £25,500 to install, would have prevented Mrs Harding's death because Maund would not have been able to lift the barriers.

Peter Rayner, a rail operations consultant, told the court that he was surprised that the system was not in place at Moreton considering it is on a well-used main line.

He added that he felt that Maund convinced himself that the train had already passed, which was why he did not make any further checks.

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

Network Rail have pleaded not guilty to a separate charge of failing in its duty of care for the health and safety of railway and railway crossing users by not installing an approach locking system at the Moreton-on-Lugg crossing.

The trial, which is due to be completed next week, continues.