The head of Network Rail (NR) has made a "full and unreserved apology" tofamilies bereaved by level crossing accidents following a scathing attack on thecompany by MPs.
Network Rail has shown "a callous disregard" for families suffering from level crossingaccidents, said House of Commons Transport Committee chairman Louise Ellman.
A report by the committee particularly highlighted the treatment of thefamilies of two teenage girls, Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13,who were killed at Elsenham crossing in Essex in December 2005.
The committee said Olivia's father, Chris Bazlinton, "described Network Rail'sfailure to produce key documents during the inquest into his daughter's death asa 'conspiracy of silence"'.
Today, Mr Bazlinton said that "other families shouldn't have to go throughwhat we have experienced" while Charlotte's father Reg Thompson said: "I stillfind it very difficult to understand how NR failed to consider the feelings ofany of the families involved."
The Transport Committee's report today, which had called for a full apologyfrom the head of NR, said that hundreds of level crossings could be exceedingofficial death-risk limits.
It added that rail regulators should set a target of zero deaths at levelcrossings from 2020 and that all nine deaths at crossings in 2012/13 werepersonal tragedies which could have been averted.
The committee added that it would be "very concerned" if NR executives gotbonuses this year, given the company was recently held responsible for a 2010incident at Beccles in Suffolk in which a 10-year-old boy suffered life-changinginjuries.
The committee pointed out that NR was fined #500,000 last year after beingprosecuted over Beccles by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).
The committee also said it was concerned that the ORR might not have enoughappropriately qualified and experienced staff to provide adequate inspection ofthe rail network or to adequately challenge NR's signalling work plans.
The report went on: "Calculating which level crossings are the most risky iscomplex but we estimate that there may be many hundreds of crossings whichexceed Health and Safety Executive guidance on the acceptable level of fatalityrisk to the public."