Accident is stark reminder of dangers

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THE tanker driver that caused the Little Cornard train crash may not have checked to see if a train was approaching, according to a report looking into the derailment.

In a report published last week, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) found that Arvydas Bartasius drove an articulated tanker on to the Sewage Works Lane crossing, off Bures Road, when it was not safe to do so.

The lorry then collided with the 5.31pm service from Sudbury to Marks Tey on August 17 last year.

Bartasius, 38, who was sentenced to 15 months in prison for endangering safety on a railway in November, also neglected to use a telephone provided to contact the signaller before crossing, even though it was a requirement to do so.

“He did not see and may not have looked for the approaching train,” read the report.

The investigation found that the company employing Bartasius – waste management firm JK Environmental – had not been briefed by the authorised user of the crossing, Anglian Water, on how staff could use it safely.

The design of the tables in the Network Rail train involved in the accident had also “exacerbated” the injuries suffered by passengers, including solicitor Alan Dickinson, who spent five weeks fighting for his life in intensive care following the incident, the RAIB said.

Recommendations made in the report to Network Rail to ensure future safety on the railways included a reminder of its responsibility to brief contractors on how to use crossings safely.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Following this incident, Network Rail has begun to put in place a series of measures to improve risk management at this crossing and others like it across the network.

“Network Rail is committed to reducing risk at level crossings and making them safer still.”

He added: “This incident serves as a stark reminder of the serious and potentially tragic consequences of deliberately ignoring signs and signals.

“We urge everyone to heed the warnings at level crossings and cross safely at all times.”