Parents fight on over rail deaths
The parents of two girls killed in a level crossing accident have pledged to continue their fight for improved safety after Network Rail (NR) admitted health and safety breaches.
Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13, were hit by a train in 2005 as they crossed the tracks at Elsenham station footpath crossing in Essex. On Tuesday Network Rail (NR) indicated guilty pleas to three charges under the Health and Safety Act at Basildon Magistrates' Court and was committed for sentencing.
Olivia's father Chris Bazlinton said the move "proves that we have been lied to over the years". Charlotte's father Reg Thompson added: "The horror of that day is always with us and the huge hole in our lives left by Charlie will never be filled. In the aftermath of the accident, Network Rail claimed the girls had acted recklessly and that somehow their youthful exuberance led directly to their deaths, as if exuberance itself is a crime.
"I never believed that they were the architects of their own terrible end. It has taken six years to reveal the truth of what happened."
Network Rail said it would plead guilty to failing to carry out a sufficient risk assessment, failing to properly control protective measures at the level crossing and failing to prevent the girls from being exposed to the risks which led to their deaths. Network Rail will be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on March 15.
Defence counsel Prashant Popat said: "Network Rail has already privately expressed regret and remorse for this tragedy. Today it accepts publicly that these faults caused the deaths of these two girls."
Olivia and Charlotte were killed on December 3 2005 as they crossed a footpath leading to Elsenham station platform. The crossing was fitted with warning lights and yodel alarms.
A London to Cambridge train passed over the crossing with the red lights and yodel sounding - a warning for foot passengers not to cross. After the train passed, the lights remained on and the alarms continued to sound as another train, travelling from Birmingham to Stansted Airport in Essex, was going to pass through the station.
The girls opened the unlocked wicket gates and walked on to the crossing. They were both struck by the Stansted train and killed.
In a statement released after the hearing, David Higgins, chief executive of Network Rail, said: "Last year I apologised in person to the families of Olivia and Charlotte. Today, Network Rail repeats that apology. In this tragic case, Network Rail accepts that it was responsible for failings, and therefore we have pleaded guilty."