Six deaths on Bedfordshire railway line prompt call for action

PUBLISHED: 06:59 20 November 2018

Six deaths within a year on the Great Northern line through Bedfordshire have triggered a call for Network Rail to take action. Picture: Nick Gill

Six deaths within a year on the Great Northern line through Bedfordshire have triggered a call for Network Rail to take action. Picture: Nick Gill

Archant

Six deaths within a year on a railway line through Bedfordshire have triggered a call for Network Rail to take action.

Conservative Potton councillor Doreen Gurney described the fatalities on the Great Northern route – in and around the Tempsford area – as “totally unacceptable” in a motion put to Central Bedfordshire councillors on Thursday, saying she felt compelled to speak about the issue.

Councillor Gurney detailed why she feels something needs to be done, referencing a tragic incident three weeks ago where a woman took her own life.

Conservative Sandy councillor Caroline Maudlin, who seconded the motion, said her heart goes out to the families and friends who have been affected by tragic events such as this.

“Network Rail is dealing with suicide prevention and it works with charities such as the Samaritans, with a campaign called ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’, and with other stakeholders and agencies,” she said.

“This is working. There have been fewer deaths since it started in 2010.

“The emotions, the human and financial costs are disproportionately high – as these instances can take place in view of passengers, station staff and drivers.

“That can lead to more untold mental health issues, let alone the disruption to other passengers and services.”

Councillor Maudlin went on to speak about why she considered the motion to be so important, and said a “bridge over the line would be perfect, and expensive”.

Suggesting other measures, she added: “I urge you, Councillor Dalgarno, to pursue Network Rail in this instance to help prevent any more deaths,” she said.

Independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny agreed that it was right concerns were being expressed and, along with suggested amendments to the wording of the motion, said: “My only worry is there is a danger Network Rail will say we haven’t got the many millions to put bridges and underpasses here, maybe we will just shut them all.”

Conservative Arlesey councillor Ian Dalgarno, CBC’s excecutive member for community services, said: “Councillor Gurney has been corresponding with me following the incident she has mentioned.

“It’s a very sad incident. My thoughts are with the families and everyone involved.”

Citing statistics related to the number of deaths, Councillor Dalgarno agreed something needs to be done.

“I will use CBC’s influence to lobby Network Rail for improvements and we will continue to do that.

“I will look at options that we can pursue with Network Rail.”

Councillor Gurney’s motion asks the executive member for community services to pursue this issue with Network Rail in an attempt to prevent further loss of life, and received the backing of fellow members at the full council meeting.

• Anyone can contact Samaritans any time, free from any phone on 116 123. This number is free to call and will not show up on your phone bill. Or you can email jo@samaritans.org or go to www.samaritans.org to find details of your local branch where you can talk to one of their trained volunteers face to face.

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