Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Rail crash site signs criticised

Crash scene (Picture by Steve Parrott)
Three of the train's axles derailed in the crash. Picture by Steve Parrott

Signs indicating a railway line where a motorist was involved in a fatal collision with a high-speed train were "unsatisfactory", a coroner has said.

John Power, 54, died when his car crashed through a fence and ended up on the tracks at Copmanthorpe, North Yorkshire, on 25 September 2006.

The train derailed but stayed upright and no-one on board was hurt.

Recording an open verdict, York coroner Donald Coverdale criticised signage and warnings at the time of the crash.

The inquest had been told that a barely visible fence and a lack of signposts could have been factors.

The reason for the presence of Mr Power on the railway line that day will remain a mystery
Coroner David Coverdale

The coroner heard how a new fence had been erected near the tracks about six weeks before the crash.

He heard how the new fence was not as visible as the previous one.

Mr Coverdale said: "The existing signage and appearance on the road and any warnings given to drivers was unsatisfactory."

'Not suicide'

The inquest heard the site was not subject to a risk assessment by Network Rail, which was asked to look at road bridges over railway lines and other sites where vehicles could come into contact with tracks, following the Selby rail disaster of 2001.

Mr Coverdale said: "That was not a systematic failure.

"It was an oversight and an error on the part of those who were initiating risk assessment."

The coroner said he was satisfied another fatal accident could not now happen at the site due to improvements and he did not have to write to the relevant authorities with any concerns.

Mr Coverdale said there was no evidence to indicate Mr Power, a father of five, intended to take his own life and the evidence suggested he was "happy and relaxed".

He added: "The reason for the presence of Mr Power on the railway line that day will remain a mystery."

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