Woman, 83, killed on rail crossing

There were calls for safety improvements at a level crossing today after a pensioner was struck and killed by a train as she attempted to walk across with a friend.

There were calls for safety improvements at a level crossing today after a pensioner was struck and killed by a train as she attempted to walk across with a friend.

The 83-year-old woman was using the unmanned foot crossing in Leys Lane, Attleborough, shortly before 10.30am today when she was hit by the 07.06 Mansfield to Norwich service operated by East Midlands Trains.

No-one onboard the passenger train, which was travelling at about 75mph at the time, was injured. Train services were disrupted as the line closed while an investigation got underway. The line re-opened shortly after midday.

A British Transport Police (BTP) spokesman said that two elderly women were crossing with a dog when the train approached. The driver sounded his horn, but only one woman was able to get out of the way in time.

The 83-year-old was declared dead at the scene. Her friend and the dog were uninjured.

Bill Seaby, 70, who lives nearby, said he knew the dead woman and described the crossing as “an accident waiting to happen”.

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“I saw the lady and her friend walk their dogs past every morning,” he said. “I didn't see what happened and we didn't hear a claxon sound, but my partner said she thought she heard a bump. They were very nice, pleasant ladies. It is so sad.”

He added: “It was an accident waiting to happen. I have seen children messing about on the crossing and abusing it. My own feeling is that there needs to be lights on it to warn people when a train is coming.”

Robert Gandell, 54, used the crossing yesterday morning and said it was very foggy. “They need some sort of warning here to say when there is a train coming. You cannot see if the gates are open or closed on a misty morning,” he said.

Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “I think it is relatively safe. The only problem is when there is fog and it is difficult to see. I think it was just a case of it being a foggy morning and they didn't realise the train was coming.”

Attleborough district councillor Peter Francis said: “It is dreadful news. It is an uncontrolled crossing and that is always a risk and people have to be extremely careful.”

Town mayor Vera Dale said that concerns about the crossing had been raised. She said: “Children and young people take the closest option and that's going by the railway crossing. It does have gates but if they are in a group they may not take as much care.

“The concern about children and the crossing has been discussed when there were plans for a roller skate rink, and the new boxing club is that side of the railway line in Slough Lane. I don't know whether they could put some lights in, or close the gates magnetically when a train is coming like the ones at the railway station.”

East Midlands Trains spokesman, Debbie Mather, said: “The line closed while we dealt with the incident and reopened again 12.10pm. There was obviously some disruption and we had to have a replacement service between Norwich and Ely, and cancel some trains as well. This included the train involved in the tragedy.”

One railway spokesman Peter Meades said the accident had an impact on the company's Norwich to Cambridge services, with a replacement bus service running between Norwich and Thetford while the line was closed.

A spokesman for Network Rail said it was working closely with the BTP and will conduct a full investigation.