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Last Updated: Monday, 11 July, 2005, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Train crash killed manager's wife
Derailed train carriages
Flowers were being laid on the overturned engine carriage
A woman killed when the miniature railway train she was driving collided with a car at a level crossing was the wife of the railway manager.

Suzanne Martin was driving a train which derailed on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway on Sunday evening.

Kent Police revealed she was the wife of Danny Martin, the railway's general manager. No-one else was injured.

Officers questioned the 20-year-old male driver of the car, but said on Monday that he had been bailed.

The relative inexperience of drivers from outside the area with this type of level crossing means it is an accident waiting to happen
Niko Miaoulis, pub owner

The crash happened at about 1820 BST near the level crossing at Coast Drive, near Dungeness.

The crossing is one of 13 on the line which does not have barriers.

Car drivers are warned of approaching trains by red warning lights.

Police said the train was heading for the level crossing junction when it was involved in a collision with a silver Vauxhall car.

Second fatal crash

Officers said the train was derailed and Mrs Martin, who was believed to have been in her early 40s, died after becoming trapped when the engine carriage overturned.

People living nearby helped passengers off the derailed train but were unable to rescue the driver.

One of those first on the scene was Niko Miaoulis, whose pub The Pilot Inn is just yards from the crash site.

It was the second fatal crash on the 13.5 mile railway in the past two years.

The railway was her life
Robert Watson, Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway

The pub owner called on Monday for action to prevent further deaths on the line, saying he had spoken to many train drivers in the past who had talked of near misses.

"The relative inexperience of drivers from outside the area with this type of level crossing means it is an accident waiting to happen," he said.

In August 2003 a male train driver was killed at a level crossing after colliding with a car.

The driver of the car in the 2003 collision admitted careless driving and was disqualified for 12 months and given a 500 fine.

Emergency services at the crash scene
A crane will be needed to lift the derailed train off the tracks

Robert Watson, a director of the miniature railway, said the crossings complied with current safety standards, but the system was being looked at in conjunction with the Railway Inspectorate.

He suggested that barriers could be installed at some of the level crossings.

Mr Watson said Mrs Martin was one of the railway's most loyal members of staff and had been its first female driver.

He said she had met her husband on the railway when they were teenagers and the "railway was her life".

Mr Watson added that the railway would be operating a restricted service between Hythe and New Romney until investigations at the crash site were complete.


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