Safety pledge for rural rail crossing

RAIL bosses have pledged to review safety measures at a “dangerous” Suffolk crossing to prevent the repeat of a tragic accident that claimed the life of two teenage girls.

RAIL bosses have pledged to review safety measures at a “dangerous” Suffolk crossing to prevent the repeat of a tragic accident that claimed the life of two teenage girls.

Residents in Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, have long held concerns over inadequate safety measures at their village railway station, which has no footbridge or pedestrian gate.

But Network Rail has announced it will be assessing the crossing - along with 12 others around the country - in light of the death of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson, who were killed trying to cross the tracks at a station in Elsenham, in Essex, last year.

Thurston resident and Mid-Suffolk district councillor Derrick Haley , last night welcomed the news and said it was only a matter of time before someone else was hurt or killed.


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“A barrier was installed a couple of years ago to stop cars driving on to the tracks, but there is nothing really in place to stop people walking into the path of an oncoming train,” he said.

“Outline planning permission has been granted for a new housing development near the station, which means more people will be at risk, especially young children who might try and play near there.

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“I have lived in Thurston since 1969 and there have never been any incidents, and I think most people who live in the village know what to do and which warning signs to look out for, but it is always possible that someone might make a mistake like those two young girls did.

“Their death was a shock, and it showed how easily accidents can happen, especially if you are in a hurry. But this review is good news, and hopefully it might lead to safety improvements at the station.”

Olivia, 14, and 13-year-old Charlotte - whose uncle, David Thompson, lives in Sudbury - were going Christmas shopping in Cambridge when they were struck by a train travelling at 70mph.

Their devastated families launched a campaign for improved safety measures at Elsenham station, and, following recommendations made in an independent report by the Rail Safety and Standards Board, Network Rail have agreed to install a footbridge, as well as locked gates.

Network Rail spokesman Stuart Buss said: “The report also recommended we carry out a review of 13 other stations, including Thurston.

“What happened at Elsenham was tragic, and although we have treated that station as a priority, we did not want to look at that in isolation.

“We will be carrying out assessments at the other stations in due course, and will be making recommendations based on our findings.”

He added that although no decision would be made until next year, nothing was being ruled out, including the possibility of a footbridge being installed at Thurston.

lisa.cleverdon@eadt.co.uk

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