Girl's death leads to rail safety move

Railway chiefs have pledged pounds 40,000 to improve safety after an 11-year-old girl died at a south London station.

Network SouthCentral promised safety improvements on three stations after Christine Wallace was killed last month while playing at East Dulwich.

Christine went to fetch a ball which fell off the platform. It is believed she touched the live electrified line. The station was closed and unstaffed as it was a Sunday, but trains were passing through.

Tessa Jowell, Labour MP for Dulwich, has persuaded Network SouthCentral, the local train operators, to invest pounds 40,000 in improving East Dulwich, North Dulwich and Peckham Rye stations. Crime on railways has risen 35 per cent in the past 10 years, during which time British Rail staffing levels have halved. Many stations are unstaffed.

'The level of station staffing has fallen drastically in the past 10 years, said Ms Jowell. 'You keep stations safe by having them well-staffed. The temptation for inner-city children to play on stations is enormous. It is irresistible, but lethal.'

The money will be used to fund a safety audit of the stations and to propose improvements. SouthCentral has also launched a poster campaign at all its south London stations to alert children to the dangers.

The latest cash pledge comes after an earlier pounds 40,000 from neighbouring train operators South Eastern, which was concerned at passengers' alarm over poor safety levels on and around four other stations in the Dulwich area - Sydenham Hill, Denmark Hill, West Dulwich and Nunhead.

Southwark council has already agreed to match the first pounds 40,000 and Ms Jowell hopes it will do the same for the latest initiative.