Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 09:55 UK

Services for rail crossing dead

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

Funerals have been held for three people killed in a collision between their car and a train at a railway level crossing in Caithness.

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

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

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has been looking into the cause of the accident.

Family and friends of the three victims gathered at Pultneytown Parish Church for the funerals.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch's preliminary examination has indicated the warning lights at the crossing were working and the train was driven correctly.

However, it has decided to widen its inquiry to include not just what happened at Halkirk but to review the general risk posed by unmanned, gate-free crossings.

Funeral cars
The funeral was held at Pultneytown Parish Church in Wick

It said open automatic crossings of the kind used at Halkirk made up just 2% of Network Rail's total level crossings.

But in the last 10 years, 31% of level crossing collisions have taken place at them.

The widening of the inquiry has been welcomed by Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Dave Thompson.

He said the high number of collisions on these type of crossings indicated something was not right with their design.

Their use was phased out in Northern Ireland and he said it was time Scotland did the same.

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