Railway safety and crime

15.04.19

Mother of girl killed by ‘silent’ train suing Network Rail for breaching its duty of care

Network Rail is being sued by the mother of a teenager who was killed by a ‘silent’ midnight train in Halifax.

Milena Gagic, 16, died instantly when she was hit by a night train travelling at 55mph at a level crossing in December 2014.

Her mother Leanne Gagic is now suing Network Rail for £22,123 in damages, claiming that the infrastructure manager breached its duty of care by failing to properly warn people that night trains no longer sound their horns at the town where Milena died.

Since 2007, a ‘night time quiet period’ has been in force, barring horn usage between 11pm and 7am, said barrister Stephen Glyn, and Mrs Gagic said Network Rail should have explained this with a sign.

Network Rail denies breaching its duty of care and suggests Milena was herself to blame and that signs are often missed and may not have made a difference.

Speaking at London County Court, Mrs Gagic said Milena was studying for her A-Levels when she went to the crossing late at night to chat because it was a “nice place to hang out” and she believed trains did not run at night.

Barrister Glyn said it was hard to see and hear approaching trains at the crossing location due to the curvature of the track, and claims locals such as Milena and her friend would have been lulled into a false sense of security because train horns continue to sound during the day.

He said Network Rail had long accepted there was a risk at the crossing because “whistle boards” instructing drivers to sound their horn used to be in place but no longer were.

Glyn claimed Network Rail had “done nothing” to mitigate the risk of removing the boards despite knowing of the risk to public safety.

But Network Rail barrister, Helen Hobhouse, argued that its “duty of care” was restricted to pedestrians crossing the track, and said there “would have been no significant risk to anyone using the crossing between 11pm and 7am provided they checked carefully before crossing.”

Judge Heather Baucher has reserved judgement until a later date.

 

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