Safety fears revealed at fatal train crossing

Incident on the railway track  between Kings Mill Reservoir and Hamilton Way
Incident on the railway track between Kings Mill Reservoir and Hamilton Way

Rail bosses had identified a crossing where a Kirkby cyclist was killed last year as a potential danger spot as early as 2007, an inquest has heard.

Philip Dawn (34) of Lindley’s Lane, was killed when he was hit by a train while crossing the tracks near Kings Mill Reservoir on 2nd May, 2012.

But today (Wednesday, 17th July) an inquest into Mr Dawn’s death was told that the crossing was reclassified after train speeds at the site were increased from 40 to 60 mph, while two months before his death Network Rail had drawn up plans to put a bridge over the train lines at King’s Mill.

Following risk assessments at the site, the Office for Rail Regulation had recommended that a signal should be put in place to alert passengers of oncoming trains.

But crash investigator Christopher Davies told the hearing at Nottingham Council House today that the recommendations had never been implemented due to cost.

Mr Davies also revealed that Network Rail had identified a need to build a bridge over the tracks at King’s Mill, but this still had nor been implimented due to the size of the project.

Speaking about the revelation, Mr Dawn’s father John, representing the family at the hearing, said: “There was a significant risk increase at the crossing due to the speed of trains and Network Rail had accepted the need for a bridge two months prior to the accident.

“Network Rail havd all of this information and yet they failed to act on it.”

Mr Davies said that part of their ongoing investigations into the incident would look at why no additional safety precautions were put in place once the need for a bridge had been identified.

But he said that Network Rail and train operators were within their rights to balance safety recommendations with cost - particularly as the King’s Mill crossing had no significant history of near misses.

On Tuesday, the inquest heard how witnesses watched in horror as Mr Dawn rode in front of the train without looking, after they had heard it approaching.

While the driver of the train said that he had slammed on the emergency breaks and repeatedly sounded his horn in a frantic bid to warn Mr Dawn of the danger.

But today, Mr Davies and Stuart Johnson from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch both said that any safety concerns at the crossing did not play any part in Mr Dawn’s death.

They also said that the possibly inaudible noise of the first warning whistle, sounded 418 metres from the crash site would not have played a part, as Mr Dawn had not reacted to the train horn seconds before he was hit.

Since the accident, Network Rail has carried out extensive safety improvements at the crossing, including changing the angle of the crossing to make the distance over the tracks shorter and cutting back foliage at the sides of the tracks, the inquest was told.

Train operators have also been told to use two-tone horns in future to make them more audible, while a new alarm system has been installed at the crossing which sounds a warning when a train is around 400 metres away.

Nottinghamshire’s Assistant Deputy Coroner Jane Gillespie is expected to reach her verdict tomorrow.

Pictured are emergency services staff at the scene of the accident last year.