Schoolgirl, 15, is fourth person to be killed on path across rail track
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Monday 30 January 2012
A notoriously dangerous railway crossing has claimed its fourth life in a decade after a 15-year-old schoolgirl was hit by a train while making her way across the tracks on Saturday.
Katie Littlewood was walking over the Johnson's footpath crossing near Cannons Close in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, at about 11.45am. There was speculation among local residents was that there had been a second teenager present at the crossing at the time of the accident.
The latest in a string of fatalities at the pedestrian walkway was a tragic reminder of the risks posed by Britain's level crossings, coming just three days before the start of tomorrow's prosecution of Network Rail for the death of another teenager on the same line in nearby Elsenham in 2005.
Safety measures at the Johnson's footpath crossing, which straddles the line carrying the high-speed Stansted Express, were upgraded following the death of 83-year-old Joan Sage in 2002. Yet even before the latest incident, the installation of a gate and flashing lights had already failed to stop two more deaths in 2006 and 2008.
For some years residents have raised concerns about the crossing – which offers locals a shortcut to nearby Stortford and the local leisure centre – and campaigned for it to be replaced by a footbridge.
Yesterday a bouquet of flowers had been laid alongside floral tributes to previous victims.
"There are lights and a noise to prevent people crossing before a train arrives," said Jill Sortwell, who lives nearby. "I obey the lights but kids being kids sometimes take their chance. They have got to be protected, especially as they often have earphones in and mobile phones." She added that "it is well known among the residents that some kids play chicken on the line". She said she saw the police cars and helicopter arrive, adding: "It was just awful."
Another resident, Elaine Dawson, said: "The issues with this crossing have been coming on for 30 years. The old trains used to be noisy and they tooted. The high-speed Stanstead Express trains are really fast and quiet."
Ms Dawson said that only last week workmen were measuring up the site for a sloped foot crossing that would go over the tracks, but said: "The new bridge won't be much comfort to the families affected by this tragedy."
British Transport Police, who are investigating the incident, said they were not treating it as suspicious and confirmed the girl's next of kin have been informed.
- 1 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 2 It won’t work, Jeremy: The Health Secretary has lost the confidence of the medical profession in his attempt to reform the NHS
- 3 Kim Jong-un awarded global statesmanship prize by Indonesia
- 4 Bobbi Kristina Brown memorial service marred as bitter family row erupts in public
- 5 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Labour rallies behind Flint as deputy leader to offset a Corbyn win
Kim Jong-un awarded global statesmanship prize by Indonesia
Bobbi Kristina Brown memorial service marred as bitter family row erupts in public
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...