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Report 01/2023: Pedestrian Struck by a Train at Lady Howard Footpath and Bridleway Crossing

RAIB has today released its report on a pedestrian struck by a train at Lady Howard footpath and bridleway crossing, Surrey, 21 April 2022


Lady Howard footpath crossing viewed from the north side
Lady Howard footpath crossing viewed from the north side

RAIB published its report on this accident on 14 February 2023.


Since RAIB’s report was published, new evidence has been made available to the branch concerning the accident.


The Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents has concluded that this new evidence may be significant and that RAIB’s investigation into the accident should therefore be reopened under the provisions of section 7(8) of The Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003.


Further information can on our current investigation page.


Summary

At about 14:49 hrs on Thursday 21 April 2022, a pedestrian was struck and fatally injured by an out-of-service passenger train at Lady Howard footpath and bridleway crossing, near Ashtead in Surrey. The pedestrian, who was walking on the crossing with a dog and pushing a wheeled trolley bag, started to cross the railway tracks shortly after a train had passed. She was struck by a second train, which was travelling in the opposite direction to the first. The driver of the train involved in the accident sounded the train’s horn on seeing the pedestrian on the crossing. The pedestrian responded by hurrying forwards towards the exit of the crossing but was unable to get clear of the path of the train in time to avoid being struck.


RAIB’s investigation found that the pedestrian was apparently unaware that the second train was approaching when she made the decision to cross; there is no evidence that she was aware of it and/or had misjudged the time available to cross. This was because, although the pedestrian looked twice in the direction of the second train before starting to cross, the front of this second train was hidden behind the first train, which was moving away on the line nearest to her. RAIB also found it was possible that the pedestrian did not perceive the risk arising from the possibility that the first train was hiding another approaching train.


A probable underlying factor was that Network Rail had not provided any effective additional risk mitigation at the crossing, despite having previously deemed the risk to users to be unacceptable. Network Rail had planned to install miniature stop lights at the crossing, but complexities with the technology required at this location meant that this solution was not ready for implementation before the accident occurred. There is little evidence that Network Rail considered effective options to mitigate the risk on an interim basis while this solution was progressed, although they fitted additional warning signs for users and a camera to monitor crossing use.


Recommendations

As a result of this investigation, RAIB has made two recommendations, both to Network Rail. The first is intended to address the risk to pedestrians at crossings of this type arising from a second approaching train being hidden from view by another train. The second recommendation concerns the implementation of appropriate interim risk mitigations at level crossings that are awaiting long-term solutions.


Notes to Editors

  1. The sole purpose of RAIB investigations is to prevent future accidents and incidents and improve railway safety. RAIB does not establish blame, liability or carry out prosecutions.

  2. RAIB operates, as far as possible, in an open and transparent manner. While our investigations are completely independent of the railway industry, we do maintain close liaison with railway companies and if we discover matters that may affect the safety of the railway, we make sure that information about them is circulated to the right people as soon as possible, and certainly long before publication of our final report.

  3. For media enquiries, please call 01932 440015.

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