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Cyclist killed by train at level crossing in Suffolk

Local resident says glare from sun can make it difficult to see trains approaching

A cyclist was killed this morning when he was struck by a train at a level crossing close to Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The East Anglian Daily Times says that British Transport Police believe the unnamed man’s death may have been “a tragic accident” although a later report from the BBC says the police are treating his death as "unexplained".

The fatal incident took place at the Cattishall level crossing in Great Barton, which according to the ABC Railway Guide, is a pedestrian level crossing.

It lies on the route between Ipswich and Cambridge, and the track has a maximum speed of 75 miles an hour. It adds that some 76 trains pass the location each day.

The publication, which details all railway infrastructure in Great Britain, cites “sun glare” as one of the key risk factors at the crossing, as well as the “large numbers of users” and “frequent trains.”

The cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been struck by a westbound train at around 9am as he sought to cross the railway line, which bisects a single-lane track that forms part of National Cycle Route 13. Police believe the cyclist had dismounted before he was struck.

Given the time of day and the fact the train would have arrived from the east, it is possible that glare from the sun may have been a factor.

One local resident, Hugh Howcutt, recounted how he heard the train’s horn sound before it came to a halt. He said he was aware of five fatalities during the 37 years he had lived there.

“The sun was very, very bright this morning,” said Mr Howcutt. “That’s east (where the train came from), and you can hardly see up that track when the sun is like it was this morning.

“We cross it regularly and you do have to use your common sense, you have to be aware. If there’s a train within a couple hundred metres, you can’t hear it until it’s practically upon you.

“More people are using it now than when we first moved here, people are running, cycling through it all the time. It’s either got to have a bridge or be closed.”

According to the East Anglian Daily Times, major housing development is planned for land nearby, which may involve developers re-opening an underpass running beneath the railway as an alternative to the level crossing.

A Network Rail spokesman told the newspaper that it was “committed to reducing level crossing risk as much as possible”

He said: “We have invested £131million nationally to upgrade or close more than 700 level crossings nationwide since 2010, with a further 500 planned for the next five years.

“As part of this, we continue to examine and assess level crossings in the Anglia Route.”

In October 2012, Network Rail issued the following video to warn people on foot or bikes of the need to look and listen for trains at pedestrian level crossings.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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