Portland Street Level crossing death highlighted in the House of Commons

ots-pedestrian hit by train portland street level crossing southport ots onthespot ots otsnews.co.uk_0

A Liverpool MP has hit out at rail bosses for high death rates at level crossings and their “callous” handling of fatalities.

Louise Ellman, the Liverpool Riverside MP who also chairs the Commons’ transport select committee, called on Network Rail to cut crossing deaths to zero by 2020.ots transport minister

Louise Ellman MP

Launching a report into rail safety, she said while fatalities had dropped since 2008, half of all tragedies happened at crossings if suicide and trespasser deaths were not included in statistics.

In January last year, a man was killed after being struck by a train at a level crossing on Portland Street, in Southport, while across the country nine people lost their lives in this way from 2012 to 2013.

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Portland Street crossing (Tuesday 15th January 2013)

Mrs Ellman said: “Every one of those deaths was a personal tragedy which could have been averted.

“Yet, looking back, it’s clear that on too many occasions Network Rail showed a callous disregard for the feelings of the families of people killed or seriously injured in accidents at level crossings.”

The MP said the company, which manages the UK’s railway infrastructure, had reported crossing deaths as being down to trespass or misuse, when in fact the victims had been acting responsibly.

She said Network Rail’s chief executive, Mark Carne, was ultimately responsible for the experiences of bereaved families who were misled.

Responding to Mrs Ellman’s attack, the rail boss apologised on behalf of the company.

He said: “Today, I wish to extend a full and unreserved apology on behalf of Network Rail to all those whose life has been touched by a failing, however large or small, made by this company in managing public safety at level crossings and in failing to deal sensitively with the families affected.

“Nothing we can say or do will lessen the pain felt by the families of those killed or injured at a level crossing.”

He said the company was “very different”, and had made big improvements on rail safety.

Mrs Ellman also called on rail safety to be introduced on the national curriculum in schools, and said the office for rail regulation should ensure crossing deaths were minimised by imposing an “explicit target” of zero deaths per year by 2020.

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