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7 March 2014, 09:09
MPs criticise Network Rail's approach to dealing with the families of level crossing accident victims
A "full and unreserved apology" has been issued by the boss of Network Rail over deaths at railway level crossings.
MPs on the Commons Transport Committee say on "too many occasions" the company has shown a "callous disregard" for families of those killed.
There were 9 fatalities last year, including one in Nottingham; a 13-year-old girl died at a crossing near Hucknall in October.
In November 2008 Jean Hoggart, 56, and her grandson Mikey Dawson. aged 7, were hit by a train and killed at the same crossing.
Both a tram and a train were travelling towards the crossing in the same direction.
The tram had much brighter lights and an illuminated saloon. However the train was travelling at a much higher speed and had caught up with the tram.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) investigation found that the difference in illumination may have contributed to the accident. They also found a number of failings attributable to Network Rail, including a lack of crossing illumination, signalling equipment that reduced visibility; and not appreciating that the crossing in darkness presents different risk to users, since all inspections had been in daytime.
The committee's report today quoted Mrs Hoggart's husband, Laurence, who said:
'I think that NR have treated me badly. They wrote just one letter of apology. My solicitors discovered that the crossing was seen to be unsafe by Railtrack in 2000 and their advisers said that a bridge should be built. That was eight years before they died.
'After Jean and Mikey died, NR straightened the dog leg and put lighting there, but this was not enough. I said when they died that a bridge needed to be put there. Further deaths were unnecessary.'