Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Death 'Could Have Been Prevented' 17-Year-Old Was Killed on Level Crossing

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Death 'Could Have Been Prevented' 17-Year-Old Was Killed on Level Crossing

Article excerpt

Byline: Brian Daniel

RAIL bosses have been fined pounds 75,000 for health and safety breaches which led to the death of a Northumberland teenager on a level crossing.

Network Rail received the fine, plus an order to pay pounds 36,791.99 in costs, after the incident in which Christopher Walton, of Haltwhistle, died in 2008.

The 17-year-old was killed after being hit by a freight train on the West Lodge level crossing near the town.

Last night Christopher's mother Michelle welcomed the fine but voiced concerns little has been done to prevent another death at West Lodge.

Network Rail was prosecuted by the Office of Rail Regulation after its investigation found that the company should have taken steps to reduce the risks of using the crossing.

Routine inspections between 2005 and 2008 by Network Rail failed to recognise the continued risks, the court heard.

At Newcastle Crown Court, the company pleaded guilty to failing to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure Christopher's safety at the crossing.

The teenager was killed as he walked over the crossing having delivered coal to a neighbouring house, at around 5.20pm. A jury inquest in November 2008 ruled Christopher's death had been an accident.

Network Rail pleaded guilty to the Office of Rail Regulation charge at Tynedale Magistrates' Court in February this year. The investigation found that Network Rail could have instructed pedestrians using the crossing to phone a signaller before crossing.

A risk assessment in 2005 identified inadequate sighting distances at West Lodge and detailed options to improve safety, but the company did not act on its findings.

The Office of Rail Regulation served an improvement notice on Network Rail the month after Christopher's death requiring them to make safety improvements, with which the company complied. …

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