Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 9°C


Bury St Edmunds/Great Barton: Train driver “devastated” at speeding investigation took his own life at Cattishall level crossing

19:39 05 June 2014

Cattishall level crossing

Cattishall level crossing

A train driver left “devastated” at being investigated for a speeding breach took his own life at a west Suffolk level crossing, an inquest has heard.

Neil Saunders, of Bury St Edmunds, had a previously unblemished record in 15 years as a train driver until the brief lack of concentration resulted in the speeding incident, the inquest was told.

The 44-year-old was reportedly left with “concerns and anxieties” after the incident, and took his life at the Cattishall level crossing in Great Barton in February – four months after his train passed through a stop signal.

He was due to get back in control of a train for a new job on the night of the tragedy.

Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean told the hearing in Bury that Mr Saunders was left “devastated” by the investigation, which led to him leaving his job.

Dr Dean added: “He lived for the job and took great pride in being a very good train driver.

“Prior to this he had an unblemished record of service and clean sickness record. It does appear the incident had undermined his confidence to a certain extent.

“Although people around him loved him and cared for him, he clearly had worries about the previous incident, concerns and anxieties, but I don’t think anybody could have predicted the action he took that night.”

The signal passed at danger (SPAD) incident happened in November, while Mr Saunders was working for Direct Rail Services.

An investigation found he had exceeded the speed limit on part of the track, which was attributed to a brief lack of concentration due to some concerns he had at the time.

The 44-year-old of Plovers Way, near Nowton Park, found new employment with Freightliner Heavy Haul, and was reportedly left feeling “upbeat” after an initial assessment.

However, on February 24 – a week after the assessment – he was due to meet his new team leader in Peterborough for a night shift, but instead headed to the level crossing off Mount Road.

He was hit by a passenger train travelling from Ipswich to Cambridge at around 8pm, the inquest heard.

The driver of the train reported seeing Mr Saunders standing in the “four foot” – the space between the two tracks – facing away from the oncoming train.

The driver applied the emergency brakes, but did not have time to sound the horn.

Mr Saunders had dinner with his family before he left that night and reportedly there was “nothing untoward”, but he had discussed his new job with his wife Kate during the day.

Dr Dean said: “There was some discussion during the day about whether he was worried about going to work, and one gets the sense of some concern, but she gave him reassurance and he said ‘he wished he had her optimism’.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Ipswich Star visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Ipswich Star staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Ipswich Star account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

It’s nearly Halloween and there is a variety of events across Suffolk this half term to keep your little monsters entertained no matter what their age.

A wedding dress catwalk, singers, cakes, flowers and a string quartet were among the bridal delights on offer at Ipswich Hotel’s Wedding Fayre today.

Stormtroopers marched the streets of Bury St Edmunds this weekend as Moyse’s Hall unveiled its acclaimed annual science fiction exhibition.

An armed police officer was called to Kesgrave as a safety precaution after a report was received of an injured dog today.

Last week’s article was about Oak Hill, the outstanding property just off Belstead Road on Oak Hill Lane, built in 1860 on a plot of land sold by Peter Burrell of Stoke Park, recaps John Norman, of the Ipswich Society.

Arthur Ransome’s tales of boats and adventure - many of which were set in Suffolk - changed the course of children’s literature.

A disqualified motorist banned for a drink-drive related offence was caught driving again while nearly four-and-a-half times the limit within two hours of his conviction.

Plans for Sizewell C are doomed to “evaporate” in the wake of insurmountable problems that will prevent its intended forerunner at Hinkley Point ever producing electricity, one of Britain’s leading environmentalists has predicted.

A Suffolk-based charity auction which has attracted bids from all over the world and raised more than £870,000 since its inception is aiming to break the £1million mark for national and local charities this year.

Fight or flight is fascinating, writes Ellen Widdup.

Most read

Most commented


Show Job Lists

Topic pages


Newsletter Sign Up

MyDate24 MyPhotos24