Families bereaved by level crossing accidents received a "full and unreserved apology" from the boss of Network Rail today. The move from the network's chief executive Mark Carne followed severe criticism in a report by MPs of their treatment of families affected by level crossing tragedies. Mr Carne said:
"Today, I wish to extend a full and unreserved apology on behalf of Network Rail to all those whose life has been touched by a failing, however large or small, made by this company in managing public safety at level crossings and in failing to deal sensitively with the families affected.
"Nothing we can say or do will lessen the pain felt by the families of those killed or injured at a level crossing. Today NR is a very different company to the one which existed at the time of these tragic accidents. "
A Nottinghamshire man whose wife and grandson were killed at a level crossing has welcomed the findings of a parliamentary report calling for improvements to rail safety. Laurence Hoggart gave evidence to a group of MPs about the deaths of his wife, Jean, and seven year old grandson, Mikey, after they were hit by a train at a level crossing in Bestwood in 2008. He told ITV Central he felt they had shown him "absolutely appalling" treatment after the tragedy.
The report from the House of Commons Transport Committee says on "too many occasions" Network Rail had shown a "callous disregard" for families bereaved by accidents at crossings.
Rail regulators should set a target of zero fatalities at level crossings from 2020, added the report. All nine deaths at crossings in 2012/13 were "personal tragedies which could have been averted", the MPs said.