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Walsall railway crossing where Sarah Athersmith died 'closed until autumn'

By Alex Ross | Walsall | News | Published:

A railway crossing in the Black Country where a 14-year-old girl was killed will remain closed until October.

Wallows Lane Crossing with, inset, 14-year-old Sarah

Network Rail will keep Wallows Lane Crossing in Walsall shut as it seeks permanent closure.

It marks a U-turn for the authority, which at the inquest of Sarah Athersmith, who died at the crossing, said it had ‘no significant risk’.

However, an inquest raised concerns of a lack of warning given of an approaching train.

Sarah Athersmith died at the crossing near Bescot Stadium on September 26 last year. The crossing has been closed since the tragedy.

A Walsall Council spokesman said: “The Department for Transport has now approved an extension to the temporary closure for a further six months until October 20, 2018.

“Walsall Council will work closely with Network Rail in relation to their application for the proposed permanent closure of the level crossing.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Following the tragic death that happened at Wallows Lane level crossing on 26 September, Network Rail applied for a temporary closure order of the footpath crossing.

“We continue to work closely with Walsall Council and the temporary closure has been extended for a further six months, until October 20.”

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At the inquest in December, Senior Coroner Zafar Siddique said Sarah let a freight train pass, but was then hit by the London Midland train, which was coming from the opposite direction on the line.

But at the hearing, Ben Parish, safety specialist at Network Rail, said that the crossing was not in the top 20 risk rankings.

He added: “There was no significant risk.”

But Mr Siddique later wrote a report to Walsall Council, Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road, calling for action to be taken over the crossing.

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He said: “During the course of the inquest the evidence revealed matters giving rise to concern.

“In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken.”

He was concerned over the lack of warnings to pedestrians and of a ‘near miss’ that happened there in 2011.

Since the closure, he added: “It appears there has been minimal impact on the local community.”

Councillor Mohammad Nazir, of the Palfrey ward, said: “If the crossing closure is based on a study then I think it is right to do so because of safety reasons.”

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
Investigations Editor - @alexross_star

Investigations Editor at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.

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