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Fatal crossing should have been shut a decade ago
6:00am Thursday 16th January 2014 in News
A CYCLIST was killed at a level crossing earmarked for closure 10 years earlier, according to a rail accident report.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch said the crossing at Motts Lane in Witham was heavily used and had a history of misuse by pedestrians and cyclists.
A risk assessment carried out by Network Rail in 2003 recommended the crossing be replaced by a bridge.
But the crossing was still in operation on January 24 last year when Michal Majzner, 30, rode into the path of a Greater Anglia train.
Mr Majzner, of Pennyroyal Crescent, Witham, who was cycling to work at Village Glass on the Eastways Business Park, died at the scene. Rail investigators said the lights at the crossing were showing red at the time and it was not possible to know why Mr Majzner had attempted to cross.
The report went on: “It may have been because he was used to seeing the lights at red for long periods before trains arrived at the crossing, and decided for himself whether it was safe to cross.
“The lights showed red for long periods because there were deficiencies in the design of the railway signalling system in the area, and it was not being used as it was designed to be.”
The report said there was also an audible warning. It continued: “The cyclist was unaware the train was so close to the crossing, probably because it was difficult to pick out the train’s headlight among the lights of Witham station, about 700 metres from the crossing.”
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has recommended the long waiting times at automatic crossings are reviewed and reduced.
It has suggested standardising the length of time red lights are shown. The Office of Rail Regulation said its investigation found no evidence breaches of health and safety laws led to the accident.
A £3.2million bridge is in the process of being built at the Motts Lane crossing. Network Rail says the Motts Lane bridge will be completed and open to the public by this spring, and it plans to replace more crossings.
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