Firm is ‘sorry’ for rail death of child, four

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The boss of Network Rail has apologised because the warning lights on the Doncaster level crossing where a four-year-old Haxey girl suffered fatal injuries were not bright enough.

An expert giving evidence at the Nottingham inquest into Emma Lifsey’s death in December 2012 at Beech Hill crossing, Misson Springs, stated they were ‘the worst red lights he had seen’.

After the jury concluded that Emma died as the result of an accident, Phil Verster, route managing director for Network Rail said: “I apologise to Emma Lifsey’s family for any contribution the condition of the lights at Beech Hill crossing may have made to her tragic accident.

“My team and I are fully committed to reducing risk at level crossings wherever possible.

“We have replaced the lamps in the warning lights at Beech Hill and have a prioritised programme of replacement at all crossings that have the same lamps, with brighter LED lights which are easier to see in poor light conditions.”

Emma, of Blackmoor Road, Haxey, was a passenger in a car driven by her grandmother, Dianne Jarrett, when it went through the automatic barrier and collided with a passenger train on the Doncaster-Lincoln line.

The little girl died from a traumatic brain injury the following day in hospital in Sheffield.

Mrs Jarrett, who lives in Bawtry, had used the crossing hundrds of times but on that day saw the red lights at the last second because of glare from a low sun and a wet road surface.

Hugh Barton, an optical consultant, said the 36 watt filament bulbs on the Beech Hill level crossing were not bright enough and added they were the “worst red lights he had seen at a level crossing.” After the collision the Rail Accident Investigation Branch sent out an urgent safety measure message saying the 36W bulbs should be changed.