Rail deaths: Mother says Network Rail were 'inhuman'

  • 22 October 2013
  • From the section England
Media captionChris Bazlinton said he had received "shabby treatment" from Network Rail after the tragedy

A mother whose daughter was killed by a train in Essex said the way Network Rail had spoken to her was "inhuman".

Friends Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13, were hit by a train in December 2005 as they crossed the railway line at Elsenham station.

Olivia's mother Tina Hughes told the Transport Select Committee the firm said it had to "consider the cost of safety versus the value of life".

She said it was "an... inhuman way to speak to me as a bereaved parent".

The comment had been made to Ms Hughes weeks after her daughter's death.

Olivia's father, Chris Bazlinton, appearing alongside Ms Hughes, said he believed information about their deaths had been covered up in a "conspiracy of silence".

He told the committee inquiry into level crossings on Monday that Network Rail did not reveal a damning risk assessment carried out at Elsenham before the tragedy.

"I still want to know from the people at the top who are ultimately responsible why they withheld those documents and why I should believe it won't happen again."

'Life devastated'

The documents highlighting concerns at the crossing were not disclosed until 2010, and the firm was fined £1m last year for health and safety breaches, with the judge concluding there had been "culpable corporate blindness".

Mr Bazlinton said he had received "shabby treatment" from Network Rail after the tragedy and added: "I happen to believe that not much has changed at Network Rail in the way that they treat these incidents."

Ms Hughes, who is advising Network Rail about crossing safety, told MPs: "I believe that they have made very significant changes but... there is a massive amount of work that needs to be done."

Laurence Hoggart, whose wife Jean, 56, and grandson Michael Dawson, seven, died on the pedestrian crossing in Bestwood Village in Nottinghamshire in November 2008, also gave evidence in a statement at the hearing.

Image caption Ms Hughes told the committee the way Network Rail spoke to her was "inhuman"

"This has devastated my life and my family's life. I think that Network Rail 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 a bridge should be built," he said.

Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman said it appeared from the evidence given by Mr Bazlinton and Mr Hoggart that in both the Elsenham and Bestwood incidents "Network Rail appeared to know that there was a problem but hadn't done anything about it".

In a statement, Network Rail said: "Nothing we can say or do will lessen the pain felt by the families of those killed or injured at level crossings but we have promised them that we are committed to making our railway as safe as possible and that remains our focus."

The company will be giving evidence to the committee at a later date.

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