Sussex rail deaths revealed

080111 RTA Littlehaven Station level crossing -photo by steve cobb
080111 RTA Littlehaven Station level crossing -photo by steve cobb

There have been 24 ‘near misses’ of pedestrians using Sussex footpath crossings in the past five years, Network Rail revealed this week.

As the UK’s railway management company launched its latest level crossing safety awareness advertisement this week, it also revealed two of the three deaths of pedestrians on Sussex footpath crossings were in the Horsham district.

Sussex has 118 footpath crossings and 47 user-worked crossings and Network Rail is currently carrying out £130m investment programme to improve level crossing safety nationwide.

Littlehaven railway station level crossing is currently being renovated, but it is the crossings in countryside locations south of Horsham which have claimed lives in recent years.

Former Christ’s Hospital sixth former Matthew Leonard, 18, was hit by a train while crossing the Arun Valley line near Barns Green during his morning run on February 14 2011.

In July 2008 Julian Gunning, 49, was killed by a train in front of his family when he tripped and fell as he tried to save the family pet dog at a rail crossing at Itchingfield.

He was struck by the 75mph train when he leaned back across to save the family pet dog Casper – a ten-year-old red setter – which was also killed in the accident.

The video released this week by Network Rail is aiming to encourage people to take as much care crossing railways as they would crossing a road.

Mark Ruddy, Network Rail’s route managing director for Sussex, said: “While fatalities at level crossings are at a low, it’s important to continue to raise awareness to help keep people safe when crossing the railway.

“We appreciate that it’s easy to get distracted – particularly in quiet, rural surroundings – and not realise the risk at a footpath level crossing but just as motorways cut through the countryside, so do railways and trains are often much quieter and faster than you would expect.

“We’re doing all we can to make the railway safer by upgrading crossings or closing them if we can. We hope this advert will raise awareness that we all need to take care and look out for the warning signs ahead of every level crossing as doing so can save your life.”