July 31 2014 Latest news:
Monday, March 24, 2014
A male cyclist may have died in a tragic accident at a level crossing in west Suffolk this morning as residents living nearby called for it to be closed.
The cyclist was hit by a westbound train this morning at the Cattishall level crossing, just off Mount Road in Great Barton.
Authorities have said they are not ruling out the possibility the cyclist died in a tragic accident, while neighbours living close to the area called for the crossing to be closed after years of fatalities.
Hugh Howcutt, who has lived in one of the handful of houses either side of the railway line for 37 years, said he knew of five deaths that had happened at the site during his time there.
He was outside his house at around 9am when the accident happened, and recalled hearing the train sound its horn before grinding to a halt just metres past the crossing.
He added: “The sun was very, very bright this morning. That’s east (where the train came from), and you can hardly see up that track when the sun is like it was this morning.
“We cross it regularly and you do have to use your common sense, you have to be aware. If there’s a train within a couple hundred metres, you can’t hear it until it’s practically upon you.
“More people are using it now than when we first moved here, people are running, cycling through it all the time. It’s either got to have a bridge or be closed.”
Another resident, Christopher Maher, added: “I often use it, and experience tells you that if you see a train at a distance, it doesn’t take long to reach you - it’s very difficult to judge the speed of a train.”
Officers from the British Transport Police and Suffolk Constabulary attended the scene, with the transport police now leading the investigation.
Paramedics also attended, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene. Further details about the man are expected to be released tomorrow.
Land close to the level crossing is earmarked for significant housing development under two different parts of St Edmundsbury’s Vision 2031, with the North East Bury St Edmunds and Moreton Hall masterplans planned for land close to the small Cattishall community.
The rural track up to the level crossing is part of a National Cycle Route, but the developers behind the north-east scheme, Berkeley, hope to re-open an underpass that runs beneath the track at nearby Moreton Hall.
A spokeswoman for National Rail said it was “committed to reducing level crossing risk as much as possible”, adding: “We have invested £131million nationally to upgrade or close more than 700 level crossings nationwide since 2010, with a further 500 planned for the next five years.
“As part of this, we continue to examine and assess level crossings in the Anglia Route.”
Network Rail last year submitted plans to replace a level crossing at East Barton with a footbridge, but the plans have since been withdrawn.