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Witham: Cyclist died on level crossing earmarked for closure, says report

PUBLISHED: 18:03 14 January 2014 | UPDATED: 18:03 14 January 2014

A cyclist died at a level crossing earmarked for closure 10 years before, according to a rail accident report.

The crossing at Motts Lane at Witham in Essex was heavily used and had a history of misuse by pedestrians and cyclists, the report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said.

For those reasons, a risk assessment carried out by Network Rail (NR) in 2003 recommended the crossing be replaced by a bridge, the RAIB said.

But the crossing was still in operation on the evening of January 24 2013 when, in the dark, cyclist Michael Mazjner, 30, rode on to the crossing into the path of a Greater Anglia train and was killed.

The RAIB said the lights at the crossing were showing red at the time and it was not possible to know why the cyclist had attempted to cross.

The report went on: “It may have been because he was used to seeing the lights at red for long periods before trains arrived at the crossing, and decided for himself whether it was safe to cross.

“The lights showed red for long periods because there were deficiencies in the design of the railway signalling system in the area, and it was not being used as it was designed to be.”

The report said that as well as the red light showing, the audible warning was sounding.

The RAIB went on: “The cyclist was unaware that the train was so close to the crossing, probably because it was difficult to pick out the train’s headlight among the lights of Witham station, about 700 metres from the crossing.”

Making four safety recommendations, the RAIB said that NR was replacing the Motts Lane crossing with a bridleway bridge.

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