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SEATBELTS ON TRAINS; Crossing crash inquiry wants idea tested.

Byline: By TOM PARRY

SEATBELTS for train passengers should be seriously considered, a report into the Berkshire level crossing crash said yesterday.

Seven people died when motorist Brian Drysdale, 39, drove on to the track last November.

Now the Rail Safety and Standards Board, investigating the incident, has concluded that the benefits of seatbelts should be investigated.

It also wants to see if anyone can come up with a system to warn train drivers about obstructions at automatic half barrier crossings.

Peter Webster, whose daughter Emily, 14, died in the smash on the London to Plymouth train at Ufton Nervet near Reading, has been campaigning for seatbelts on trains.

But he said the RSSB's report was "considerably disappointing". Mr Webster, of Doccombe, Devon, said the inquiry was biased against belting up. He said there was already overwhelming research proving that they are effective in saving lives.

He had also called for laminated glass to prevent injuries. The report backed fitting it when carriages are refurbished. But Mr Webster asked: "When are they going to be refurbished?"

The inquiry report also called for emergency lights in all new carriages and those being refitted.

It wants the design of window-breaking hammers examined and on-train staff accident responses reviewed.

Trains could also be fitted with bumpers. And it is considering ways of closing the Ufton Nervet crossing.

The RSSB said: "The inquiry revealed a number of issues relating to road risks for the industry to consider."

Network Rail chief executive John Armitt said: "Although the underlying cause of the accident was beyond the direct control of the railway industry, we do not forget that seven people died.

"The report suggests ways in which we can further improve safety at level crossings and these recommendations will be carefully considered."

CAPTION(S):

INQUIRY: Armitt and Emily; DISASTER: Plymouth train is derailed by a car at Ufton Nervet level crossing in Berks killing seven people
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 13, 2005
Words:319
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