At about 17:30 hrs on 6 May 2009 train number 2K74, the 17:08 hrs service from Newbury to Bedwyn, struck a pedestrian on the footpath level crossing known as Fairfield crossing, near the village of Little Bedwyn, Wiltshire. The pedestrian, who was crossing from the north-west side of the railway, was fatally injured.
The immediate cause of the accident was that the pedestrian walked onto the crossing as the train approached and was unable to get clear in time to avoid being struck.
The causal factors which led to the accident were: that (although there is no direct evidence) as she approached the crossing, she may have been distracted when making her decision to cross the line by the presence of her dogs; the way that pedestrians approaching the crossing may have used the longer view of approaching trains obtainable from a position a short distance back from the gate on the up side; the absence of ‘whistle’ boards on the approach to the crossing.
A possible contributory factor was the absence of an adequate risk assessment for the level crossing and an underlying factor was the difficulty of closing the level crossing, and its continued availability to members of the public as a footpath
RAIB has made three recommendations to Network Rail concerning the way it manages the risk to users of footpath crossings; modification of the level crossing risk model to improve its sensitivity to low sighting times; and provision of guidance to its staff assessing crossings on methods of marking the point at which level crossing users should stand to get the best view to enable them to make their decision to cross the track.
Response to recommendations:
- RAIB will periodically update the status of recommendations as reported to us by the relevant safety authority or public body
- RAIB may add comment, particularly if we have concerns regarding these responses.