1. ITV Report

Network Rail treated bereaved families 'appallingly'

A House of Commons Transport Committee report on level crossing safety has said that Network Rail admitted its behaviour towards bereaved families "has been appalling".

Here is what the committee said about recent level crossing incidents:

Elsenham, Essex, 2005

Charlotte Thompson (left) and Olivia Bazlinton. Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and her friend Charlotte Thompson, 13, were on their way to Cambridge. There was no ticket machine on their platform and they had to cross the railway to the other platform to purchase their tickets. After purchasing their tickets, the miniature warning lights and yodel alarm indicated that there was a train approaching. After a train had stopped in the station they opened the unlocked wicket gate and proceeded back across the line. They were hit by a Stansted train.

In February 2007 an inquest jury concluded that the deaths were accidental. After risk assessments not disclosed during the inquest later came to light, NR was successfully prosecuted for breaches of health and safety law and in March 2012 was fined £1 million. The station now has a footbridge and the gates have a locking system.

Today's report said that missing documents had only come to light when disclosed in 2010 by an NR employee. The report also said that Olivia's father Chris Bazlinton told MPs that the bereaved families were not able to afford legal representation during the inquest into the girls' deaths.

Reg Thompson, father of Charlotte Thompson (left), and Chris Bazlinton, father of Olivia Bazlinton. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Beccles, Suffolk, 2010

In July 2010, as Richard Wright drove his vehicle across a user-worked crossing on his farm, it was struck by a train. Mr Wright was injured and his 10-year-old grandson was thrown from the vehicle, sustaining life-changing injuries.

For many years prior to the accident, Mr Wright had been asking NR and its predecessor, Railtrack, to fit a crossing telephone because there were no warning systems. This was finally done in 2011, after the accident.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) established that the crash was caused by poor visibility when people were crossing from the south side and successfully prosecuted NR, which was fined £500,000 in June 2013. NR appealed against the decision but in January 2014 the fine was upheld.

Bayles and Wylies Crossing, Nottinghamshire, 2008

Laurence Hoggart - husband of Jean - visits the crossing in Nottinghamshire. Credit: ITV Central

This was an incident in November 2008 at a crossing near Hucknall. The crossing, which had no warning systems, was unusual because it was over three lines: a disused colliery line, the Robin Hood railway line and the Nottingham Express Transit tram line. Both a tram and a train were travelling towards the crossing in the same direction.

The tram had much brighter lights and an illuminated saloon. However the train was travelling at a much higher speed and had caught up with the tram. Jean Hoggart, 56, and her grandson Mikey Dawson, seven, were struck by the train and killed.The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) investigation found that the difference in illumination may have contributed to the accident. They also found a number of failings attributable to NR, including a lack of crossing illumination and signalling equipment that reduced visibility.

There was another fatality at the crossing in November 2012 when Lindsey Inger, 13, died. The crossing was closed in February 2013 and replaced with a footbridge in October 2013.The committee's report today quoted Mrs Hoggart's husband, Laurence, who said: "I think that NR have treated me badly. They wrote just one letter of apology. My solicitors discovered that the crossing was seen to be unsafe by Railtrack in 2000 and their advisers said that a bridge should be built. That was eight years before they died."

Network Rail admitted its behaviour towards bereaved families "has been appalling". Credit: Press Association

Ufton Crossing, Berkshire, 2004

A motorist killed himself by deliberately parking his vehicle on the automatic half-barrier crossing before the closure sequence had commenced. After striking his car, the train derailed, killing six people on the train, including the train driver. A further 71 passengers required hospital treatment. The line was closed for over a week. There has since been a near miss in 2011 and another death in 2012. NR told the committee that a road bridge will be built over Ufton level crossing by the end of 2015.

Moreton-on-Lugg, Herefordshire, January 2010

The signaller had correctly lowered the barriers at the crossing. He was then distracted by a telephone call for a very unusual crossing request. This lapse in concentration resulted in him subsequently raising the barriers at the crossing. Two cars proceeded into the path of a train and one of the passengers was killed. The crossing had previously been the subject of NR renewal works.

The RAIB noted that NR proposed a partial renewal of level crossing protection, on cost grounds. The ORR's lack of objections to NR's request meant that formal consideration was not given to "approach locking", which would have prevented the accident.After the renewal work in 2009 NR prepared a new level crossing order to update the highway requirements.

The draft order would have replaced the extant order from 1975, but was still in draft at the time of the accident in January 2010. A revised order, which was agreed in June 2013, required a higher standard of engineered safeguards.

Mexico Crossing, Penzance, 2011

Mexico Crossing following Jan's death in 2011. Credit: ITV West Country

The footpath crossing was used solely to access the beach. The RAIB found that Jan Nicholls, 73, who was fatally struck by a train, may not have heard the train horn because of the prevailing wind direction. There were no other warning systems.

The RAIB recommended safety improvements for the crossing. There is also a protected crossing just 200 metres away.

The coroner later made a "Rule 43" report recommending closure. The crossing was closed in June 2013 and, in November 2013, Cornwall County Council extended the closure and applied to the Secretary of State to have the right of way extinguished.