Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 15:45 UK

Rail crossing crash victims named

Angus and Margaret MacKay
Angus and Margaret MacKay died in the accident

Three people killed in a collision between their car and a train at a railway level crossing have been named by British Transport Police.

Angus MacKay and his wife Margaret, both 81, from Inverness, and Mr MacKay's brother Donald, 66, of Latheron, died in Tuesday's accident.

It happened at an unmanned, gate-free level crossing in Halkirk, Caithness.

The Scottish transport minister is to meet rail bosses to see if crossing safety measures need to be improved.

Angus MacKay had been driving the Nissan Almera when it was struck by the train, with his brother in the front passenger seat and Mrs MacKay in the back.

Angus and Margaret MacKay's son, also Donald, said: "We will always remember them and they will always be in our hearts and they will be deeply missed."

Police said there did not appear to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding their deaths.

Is it not time to cut through the morass of rail bureaucracy that gets in the way?
Tavish Scott
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader

The victims' names were released just hours after MSPs were told that Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson would hold talks with Network Rail on the issue.

The Liberal Democrats urged ministers to ensure action was taken urgently.

The accident, on Bridge Street in Halkirk, has already prompted a local politician to call for the installation of safety barriers at a cost of about £1m each.

The type of crossing at the crash scene, which uses flashing lights to warn of an approaching train, is common across rural Scotland.

During question time at Holyrood, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott urged the transport minister to pull together all the various groups involved in rail safety.

Donald MacKay
Donald MacKay was the front seat passenger in the car

He said: "Is it not time to cut through the morass of rail bureaucracy that gets in the way?

"Network Rail have risk assessors, the local highway authority has responsibility, as does Transport Scotland, the rail regulator, the rail inspectorate, the Health and Safety Executive, the police and even the Scottish Law Commission."

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, standing in for Alex Salmond, welcomed Mr Scott's suggestion.

She added that Mr Stevenson would explore with Network Rail "whether there are further improvements they can and should be making" at crossings where there had been serious accidents.

She pointed out rail safety was reserved to Westminster, but added: "I'm sure there is not a single person in this chamber who doesn't want to make sure we're doing everything possible to minimise for the future the chance of such an appalling accident happening again."

Investigations into the Caithness accident are continuing.



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