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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 17:20 GMT
Safety experts learn Selby's lessons
The scene at Selby where ten people lost their lives
Working party is researching safety improvements
Experts are analysing what improvements can be made to Britain's road and rail networks to prevent a repeat of the Selby tragedy.

While driver Gary Hart was found guilty of causing the deaths of 10 people in the crash by dangerous driving, engineers and safety experts are trying to learn all they can from the crash.

Highways and civil engineering experts joined rail industry representatives on a working group set up in the wake of the crash to examine the dangers to trains posed by road vehicles.

Gary Hart was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving
Gary Hart: Lost control of Land Rover
They are examining data from the two to three collisions a year between a motor vehicles and trains and trains in the UK, and referencing it to international incidents, existing research and interviews with industry leaders.

The group's findings are due to be published early in 2002, after being delayed by the departure of its former chairman, Alan Cooksey.

A separate report by the Highways Agency has been completed and is being examined by ministers.

The working group is now chaired by the Health and Safety Executive's head of the railway directorate Richard Clifton.

An HSE spokesman said the group was examining "the physical options available" to stop vehicles from blocking a railway track.

The report's findings will include recommendations of potential improvements in descending order of practicality and cost effectiveness.

From 1998-99 to the time of the Selby crash in February 2001, there were 31 incidents of motor vehicles ending up on the railway and obstructing lines, with 10 resulting in collisions.

Most of the incidents on British railways are due to vandalism rather than misadventure.

After the Selby crash, the Highways Agency commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory to collect data to prepare a factual report of road features and conditions which might have had a bearing on the incident.

But for the police, there was only one factor - a driver who fell asleep at the wheel.

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