Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Train death 'should act as warning'

Flowers left for Katie Littlewood after she died at the Johnson's Footpath crossing in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire
Flowers left for Katie Littlewood after she died at the Johnson's Footpath crossing in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire

The father of a teenage girl killed after she walked onto a railway line into the path of an oncoming train has spoken of his hope that lessons will be learned from the tragedy.

Katie Littlewood, 15, who had been on her way to a Saturday job at a charity shop, appeared to think the route was clear as she started to walk across.

She was probably listening to music on her iPod and may not have heard an alarm warning that the train was coming, the inquest at Hertfordshire Coroner's Court heard.

Katie died instantly of severe multiple injuries at the Johnson's Footpath Crossing in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire. Officers who attended the scene of the accident on January 28, 2012, found a set of earphones and an iPod nano nearby, as well as a Blackberry mobile phone.

After the jury returned a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Edward Thomas said Katie would have been keen to get to her job at the British Heart Foundation shop, a 10-minute walk from her home.

He said: "Everything I read about Katie was that she was a lovely girl. She was obviously doing extremely well. She was really happy, she was going off to her job at a charity shop. I suspect she had her earphones in and I suspect she wanted to get on."

Simon Littlewood, attending the inquest with 18-year-old daughter Sarah, told the hearing he wanted the death "to act as a warning to everybody". Mr Littlewood questioned why it had taken Katie's death for the go-ahead to be given for a footbridge, which replaced the footpath crossing at the end of last year, at a cost of just under £2 million.

Following the inquest, a Network Rail spokesman said: "Fundamental changes to the way we manage level crossings have been and are being made. We have closed this crossing and installed a footbridge, which provides a much safer route across the railway.

"Network Rail has a nationwide programme to reduce risk at level crossings, investing £130m to upgrade or close level crossings where possible. In 2009, we set ourselves a target to close 750 crossings by April 2014 and we are very close to achieving this. There is still much to do and we are committed to doing what is necessary to reduce the risk and improve safety at level crossings."

Katie, who was described as being an accomplished musician, also leaves sister Stephanie. Their mother Ruth, a GP, died several years ago. Mr Littlewood was too upset to speak to media as he left the inquest.

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