Rail crossing ‘should CLOSE’

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A REPORT into the death of an 82-year-old woman at a unmanned railway crossing in Needham Market has recommended the crossing should be closed.

Brenda McFarland, known as Olive, died at the Gipsy Lane railway crossing on August 24 last year when she was hit by a passenger train.

Mrs McFarland, a resident at the Paddock House Residential Care Home in Eye, was pronounced dead at the scene.

A report, published this week by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, says the immediate cause of the fatal accident was due to Mrs McFarland continuing to cross the track when she became aware of the train.

However, the report also identifies that there was a lack of warning time of an approaching train and that from December 2010, no action was taken to address the risk to vulnerable users.

The report says: “For vulnerable users, the warning of an approaching down line train was not sufficient to enable them to use the crossing safely.”

The report suggests the crossing should be closed and that Network Rail should take risk-reduction measures so that pedestrians have time to cross safely, and are adequately warned of approaching trains.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Fundamental changes to the way we manage more than 900 level crossings in the Anglia route have, and are being made. We welcome RAIB’s recommendations and are addressing the issues raised. There is still much to do and we are committed to doing what is necessary to reduce the risk and improve safety at level crossings.”