Man to sue BR over his sister's death

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The Independent Online
A man is considering suing British Rail after his 86-year-old sister collapsed and later died after an incident at a station in which he claims she was not given sufficient time to get off the train. Her brother is particularly upset because he says he had implored platform staff to stop the train from leaving to allow her time to get off.

David Kelly, 77, feels that his sister's death three weeks later was the result of trauma caused by her not having enough time to get off the train at Oxenholme in the Lake District.

Margaret Fraser travelled up to visit her brother on 30 May from Reading on an InterCity train, a journey she had undertaken many times before.

Although she was mobile, she was helped onto the train by rail staff and was supposed to have been given support in getting off at Oxenholme.

However, when she got to her destination there was no one to help her. Her brother looked up and down the platform but could not see her and approached the two platform staff.

He started talking to the station workers, saw his sister struggling with a train door and asked them to help get her off.

Mr Kelly said afterwards: "As I showed them where she was, they just ignored me and the smaller of the two blew his whistle very loudly and the train moved off."

Mrs Fraser had to go to Penrith, the next stop, and then return on another train. By this time, she was taken ill and had to be brought by wheelchair from one platform to another, and then back to Oxenholme. Three others who had also failed to get off the train at Oxenholme because of the door not opening came back with her.

Mr Kelly says that Margaret was already poorly: "She was very shaky when she got back and I realise now that she was already dying."

A few days later, she was in intensive care in hospital and she died on June 22. Doctors say she had suffered a heart attack.

When Mr Kelly wrote to InterCity West Coast, which is responsible for the station, Mike Kilgour, station services manager at Carlisle, replied that the signal had already been given to depart by the time Mr Kelly spoke to the staff.

There is intense pressure on rail staff to ensure that trains depart on time because train operating companies can be fined by Railtrack for any delays.

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