UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch Press Release: Investigation into a fatal accident at Gipsy Lane footpath level crossing, Needham Market, Suffolk, on 24 August 2011
The RAIB is carrying out an investigation into a fatal accident that occurred at Gipsy Lane footpath level crossing, Needham Market, Suffolk, on 24 August 2011. At about 13:52 hrs an express passenger train, the 12:30 hrs service from London Liverpool Street to Norwich, was travelling at close to the permitted line speed of 100 mph when the driver observed a person on the crossing. He applied the brakes but unfortunately the train struck the person before they had moved clear of the track. The person who was struck suffered fatal injuries.
The footpath crossing is not installed with warning lights or any other device to warn of approaching trains. Telephones that had once been installed to enable the safe passage of vehicles had been removed in 2006 when the crossing was closed to vehicular traffic. Signs are provided on both tracks to instruct train drivers to sound their horns to warn pedestrians of their approach before their trains have come into view. The crossing traverses two tracks. At the time of the accident both tracks had a permitted train speed of 100 mph.
The safe use of the crossing by pedestrians is reliant on them seeing or hearing approaching trains before deciding to cross. The investigation will include an assessment of whether pedestrians at the crossings had sufficient warning of the approach of trains to cross in safety. It will also review the history of the crossing and the steps taken by the infrastructure manager, Network Rail, to manage the risk to crossing users at this location.
The RAIB’s investigation is independent of any investigations by the British Transport Police and the safety authority (the Office of Rail Regulation).
The RAIB will publish a report, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of its investigation. This report will be available on the RAIB website.