SUFFOLK County Council has accepted that it should have acted sooner to install safety barriers that could have helped prevent an accident involving a train and a car.

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On November 30 2011 a car travelling along Stowmarket Road towards Old Newton left the road after the driver lost control and ended up on the railway line.

The driver was unhurt and got out of the vehicle but the 18.43 service from Cambridge to Ipswich was travelling too quickly to stop and struck the vehicle.

There were no injuries to passengers or train staff and the carriages did not derail, but a thorough examination of the incident was carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

The RAIB’s lengthy accident report has now been published and identifies the “causal factors” of the accident as the driver’s loss of control, the insufficient time to stop the train and Suffolk County Council’s failure to implement steps to “control the risk of incursion” at the site.

It was also found that Network Rail had assumed that Suffolk County Council was taking action to address the risk of accidents as had been identified in a 2005 report.

“Underlying” factors included the Department for Transport’s ineffective monitoring of the Road Vehicle Incursion (RVI) process, which had not been completed since being adopted by Network Rail in 2003.

Lucy Robinson, Suffolk County Council’s director of economy, skills and environment, said that in hindsight, action to make the area safer should have been taken sooner.

She said: “Suffolk County Council take its responsibilities for ensuring safety on the county’s roads very seriously and every year we invest in measures to prevent and reduce casualties.

“During this period, we were focusing on sites which had seen more accidents in the past and we were prioritising those sites.

“We accept that, in hindsight, we should have taken action sooner. We have now installed a barrier and conducted a thorough overhaul of our procedures, including improving communications with Network Rail.”

A Network Rail spokesman said it was now considering the report’s recommendations.

He said: “We have already started addressing the issues raised in the RAIB report and we are going to consider their recommendations and take any necessary action.”

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