Fathers barred at rail safety talks

Published: Sunday 19th April 2015 by The News Editor

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The fathers of two teenage girls killed at a level crossing have expressed their anger at being barred from a meeting where they intended to raise concerns about Network Rail (NR) bonuses and safety issues.

Chris Bazlinton and Reg Thompson had hoped to speak at a meeting of NR’s public members which holds the not-for-dividend company to account in the absence of shareholders.

But according to an internal email published by the two fathers, there was “a clear steer from a majority of members that there was no desire to invite Mr Bazlinton and Mr Thompson to the April workshop”.

The two fathers said members had been working “hand-in-glove with Network Rail legal and board officers to ensure that we were not given a platform to express our views”.

They went on: “Basically they have indulged in dirty tricks to stop us pursuing these issues.”

Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13, were hit by a train on the level crossing at Elsenham in Essex in December 2005.

Their parents fought a long battle with NR over what the company knew about safety at the crossing.

Eventually in March 2012, NR was fined £1 million after admitting health and safety offences over Elsenham, with the company’s then chief executive Sir David Higgins apologising “for the mistakes made by us in this tragic case”.

In January last year, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, called for bonuses to be cancelled until safety at level crossings improved.

NR bonuses for senior executives have since been capped, but bosses can still be entitled to as much as 20% of annual salary in bonuses.

Mr Bazlinton and Mr Thompson said: “Such payments were made even after failures by the company and some of its officers in regard to safety at level crossings, resulting in many deaths including those of our daughters.

“We had hoped that members would challenge NR on these issues and to ensure action to improve safety at level crossings is speeded up.”

Published: Sunday 19th April 2015 by The News Editor

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