Rail crash raises more concerns over unmanned crossings

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Rail crash raises more concerns over unmanned crossings

18th August 2010

The safety of unmanned level crossings has been called into question again following an incident which left one person in a critical condition.

The front carriage of the National Express East Anglia service crashed into a sewage tanker on an unmanned rail crossing at Little Cornard, near Sudbury in Suffolk, on the evening of 17 August. More than 20 people - all of whom were on the train - were injured in the collision.

The driver of the 1731 Sudbury to Marks Tey service is being treated at Colchester General Hospital for injuries including a suspected fractured vertebra. The driver of the lorry, which was destroyed when the train ploughed into it, has been arrested on suspicion of a number of railway safety offences.

Nigel Smith, a lawyer specialising in claims arising from rail incidents, said the investigation would be thorough and lengthy, and would likely examine the safety of the unmanned crossing.

"The sewage tanker was hit with so much force that it was totally ripped apart in the crash, spilling its slurry contents everywhere," said Nigel, an Associate with Fentons Solicitors LLP. "It's a miracle that the train did not turn over when it derailed, otherwise the consequences could have been a lot worse."

Nigel explained that the crossing where the collision occurred is what is known as a user-worked crossing. "The crossing has manually-operated gates, and a telephone which connects to the signal operator," he said. "Reports suggest that in this incident, the Network Rail signaller did not receive a call from the user of the crossing asking for the gates to be opened."

"Although this could have been a much more serious incident, questions will still be asked as to how the train was derailed, and why the sewage truck was in a position to be hit by the train in the first place," said Nigel. "The people who were subjected to this ordeal will rightly demand to know what caused it."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
The specialists at Fentons are experienced in handling claims for victims of injuries arising from accidents.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Source - Sky News, BBC News