£4m health and safety fine for Network Rail over death on level crossing

The 82-year-old former actress was killed after being hit by a train at a level crossing in Suffolk

A £4m fine has been handed out to Network Rail, after the company admitted it had breached health and safety regulations, following the death of a former film actress on a level crossing in Suffolk.

The 82-year-old former actress, Brenda McFarland, who was known as Olive, was hit and killed by a train on the Gipsy Lane crossing, in Needham Market, Suffolk, back in August 2011.

Network Rail fined £4m after death of former actress at level crossing in Sufflok

£4 million fine for Network Rail over health and safety breach

Ms McFarland appeared in the 1961 film The Frightened City, alongside Sean Connery and also appeared in The Sweeney and dramas on the BBC.

At the time of her death, she was staying at a care home due to a fall but still made a daily trip to her Creeting St Mary farm to feed the chickens.

If Network Rail had not pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, Judge Martyn Levett said that the rail company would have been fined £6m.

Judge Levett said that a five second visual warning was given, to alert pedestrians that a train bound for Norwich was nearing the crossing but stated that children and vulnerable pedestrians crossing the railway line, could take around double the time to make it across.

Just before the death of Ms McFarland, the crossing had been judged as high-risk, according to the rail firm’s counsel, Prashant Popat.

It was suggested that a temporary speed limit be put in place to improve the safety at the crossing, firstly of 80mph and then 55mph but no action was taken.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), confirmed back in 2012, that Network Rail could have prevented the former actresses death by doing more.

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