Friends of girl killed by train push for safer crossing in Weston-super-Mare

  • Reporting by Ellie Barker

The friends of a teenager, who was killed by a train at a level crossing in Weston-super-Mare, have met with Network Rail to push for safety improvements to be made at the location.

15 year-old Evie Wright died in an accident when she was hit at the Corondale Road crossing in March 2018 while on her way home from school.

At the inquest into her death Network Rail said the crossing met the industry risk requirements - but Evie's friends want more.

Schoolgirl Evie Wright died when she stepped out onto the Corondale Road crossing. Credit: The Wright family

It sent shockwaves throughout the community, affecting the young people in Weston very hard. We want to ensure this never happens again.

Jakub Trybull, The Movement
Campaigners want warnings lights and sounds to tell people when it is safe and unsafe to cross. Credit: ITV News West Country

Following the meeting Cllr Mike Bell, North Somerset Council’s deputy leader, said he had a "positive feeling" the council, Network Rail and Persimmon could work together to solve the issue.

He said: “Working together with Network Rail and Persimmon we can move forward both with some short term improvements to the crossing in terms of things like lighting and signing as well as looking at what we all agree is the best solution – a footbridge which will mean that the crossing points at Corondale and Wells can be closed.”

The work the Movement has done in setting the agenda is a great example of what can be achieved.

Cllr Mike Bell, North Somerset Council

The youth group are demanding that urgent action now be taken by the authorities to prevent other children and local residents from meeting a similar fate to their friend.

They want an audible and light warning system to be installed which would signal when it is unsafe to cross.

"This crossing is normally used by about 200 people per day... It's such an easy fix that would save lives", Jakub Trybull, who leads The Movement, added.

The Corondale Road level crossing does not have warning lights or barriers. Credit: ITV News West Country

You have to be able to see the train from a certain distance away to make a decision.

Simon Aston, Network Rail (speaking at inquest)

At Evie's inquest in 2019, Network Rail said people are expected to use their own judgement' at the crossing, and that trains travelling from the Weston direction could be seen from more than 900 metres away.

Simon Aston, an operation risk advisor said: "It is a passive crossing, which means there is no active warning such as lights or barriers.

"Users are expected to exercise vigilance about whether there is sufficient time to cross."

People are expected to exercise vigilance at the crossing. Credit: ITV News West Country

The Movement also want to know why a planned footbridge has not materialised at the site.

The inquest heard that a footbridge had been in the pipeline for 20 years and had been a requirement as part of the planning permission for the nearby Locking Castle Development.

North Somerset Council admitted there had been 'significant impediments' in building the bridge.

Safety is always our main priority and while Corondale level crossing meets our safety standards we are keen to continue working with North Somerset Council and Persimmon Homes to close this level crossing and replace it with a fully accessible footbridge.

Network Rail

Network Rail added: "Any replacement structure will be subject to a planning procedure and consultation with the community, as well as the local authority and Persimmon Homes. We estimate the cost of building an accessible footbridge at this site to be approximately £4.4 million, should funding be found, including design and installation. Any new footbridge would have to be fully accessible.

“If funding for the bridge can’t be found from Persimmon Homes, North Somerset Council or a third party we will continue our own plans to build one.

“While we develop our plans for the installation of a footbridge at this location, we continue to maintain, inspect and assess the level crossing(s), which are all compliant with our safety standards, so that they remain in good order.

“We wholeheartedly support efforts to raise awareness of how to stay safe on the railway and will continue to attend local schools and community events to promote rail safety.”