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Home   Sittingbourne   News   Article

Calls for bridge at Simpsons Crossing in Bobbing after two deaths in five months

20 May 2014
by Andy Gray
A man struck by a train at a busy rail crossing had no identification on him, it's been revealed.
 
Now police are urging anyone who knows the man tragically killed by a rush hour train near Bobbing to come forward.
 
It was the second death in five months at Simpsons Crossing, behind the Premier Inn under the A249.
 
The track near the Bobbing Apple in Sittingbourne

The track near the Bobbing Apple in Sittingbourne

 
Circumstances surrounding the latest fatality, which happened at about 9.25am yesterday as a Victoria-bound train passed through the village, remain “unexplained” and are still being investigated.
 
The victim has yet to be identified, as he was not believed to be carrying any identification.
 
It comes after mum-of-two Joelli  Budd took her own life there on Sunday, December 22.
 
The 35-year-old former manager of the Ypres Tavern in West Street, Sittingbourne, was declared dead at the scene.
 
An inquest in April found that she had committed suicide after years battling alcohol problems.
 
It’s led to calls for tougher safety measures to be installed at the level crossing which has a sign displaying the Samaritans helpline number.
 
Cllr Duncan Dewar-Whalley, from Bobbing and Conservative member for Grove ward, said: “The safest option would be to build a bridge - but it won’t stop suicides.
 
Police at the scene of the fatal train accident near Bobbing

Police at the scene of the fatal train accident near Bobbing

 
“Discussions are ongoing with Network Rail who have agreed a small footbridge should be installed, but when that will happen, I don’t know.
 
“I’m extremely sorry for the person who’s died, but also very sorry for the train driver who’s got to live with the incident for the rest of their life.”
 
Monday’s incident happened as the Southeastern train left Sittingbourne at 9.03am.
 
Passenger Malcolm Vandepeer, 68, described how the service came to a sudden stop as it headed towards Newington.
 
He said: “We’d been stationary for about 10 minutes when a conductor walked through and said the train had ‘hit something’.
 
“Then another 10 minutes later he came back through again and said it was a body.
 
Joelli Budd had just been denied access to her children when she died

Joelli Budd had just been denied access to her children when she died

 
“He kept apologising and said we’d be stationary while engineers were sent to repair the front of the train.
 
“They said they hoped to move the train to Newington, but a while later said it couldn’t be repaired so we had to evacuate.”
 
Mr Vandepeer, a fire alarm tester, said passengers were kept on the train for about an hour before they were led along the tracks and escorted towards an exit at Bobbing Hill.
 
A total of 26 trains were cancelled as a result of the line being shut between Faversham and Gillingham while police and rail teams carried out investigations into the death.
 
“The only truly safe level crossing is a closed one" - Network Rail
 
A replacement bus service was laid on for passengers.
 
The line was fully reopened by 1pm.
 
A Network Rail spokesman said the company “would like to put a bridge” at Simpsons Crossing but “a lot of work needed to be done” to make it happen.
 
He said: “In the next five years we’re looking to close 30 level crossings in Kent and Sussex, and although we can’t say for definite, Simpsons Crossing might be one of those.
 
“If it’s a public right of way, we can’t unilaterally close it.
 
“We’ve closed 800 level crossings nationwide in the last five years.”
 
He added: “The only truly safe level crossing is a closed one.”

 

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