Following the unsatisfactory Inquest, Tina decided to take civil action against Network Rail to prove that they were negligent in the way that they had managed risk at Elsenham and expose the general poor quality of their level crossing risk management.
Network Rail went through the process of defending the case but after two years conceded and settled out of court. This was very disappointing as a quiet settlement was not what Tina wanted for the case – the intention to use the media attention at the end of the case to alert the rail regulator to take some action to improve matters.
The settlement, a maximum of £10,000 for the death of a child where there are no dependents, less 10% discounted for “contributory negligence”, was certainly not why the civil case was taken.
At the end of the case the papers were returned to Tina by her solicitors. A cursory glance through them before consigning them to the loft alerted her to a risk assessment undertaken in 2002 that she had not seen before and after checking with the Coroner, RAIB and HMRI found that none of the authorities had seen this either.
Following the exposure that this risk assessment that had not previously been made available to the Coroner or accident investigators in The Times, the Office of Rail Regulation re-opened the investigation into the accident at Elsenham that led to the deaths of Olivia and Charlie.
What led to Tina’s involvement in level crossings?
At the time of the accident, Tina worked (and continues to work) as a project manager for Atkins, a civil engineering company, who with some experience of managing risk at project level, was appalled at the standard of risk management that became evident during the year following Olivia’s death.
At the time of the media exposure of the withheld risk assessments, David Higgins arrived as Chief Executive Officer at Network Rail with a proud safety record from the Olympics Delivery Authority. He recognised Tina’s interest in improving standards in Network Rail and asked her to became Network Rail’s Level Crossing User Champion. Tina had already been working with the Head of Community Safety for a number of years prior to her formal role which started in July 2011.
What is a Level Crossing User Champion?
Tina was asked by the Chief Executive of Network Rail, David Higgins, to provide a users perspective on level crossing matters. She presents to Network Rail staff and others in the industry about why improvements to level crossings must be made. She supports the new National Level Crossing Team in Network Rail by providing a sounding board for their ideas and promotes their work within Network Rail to gain support for the business change programme that is being undertaken.
She is asked to speak at a conferences about level crossing and rail safety and has presented at the International Level Crossing Symposium.
She has attended local Rail User Groups to provide support for changes and improvements in the safety and protection of level crossings.
She provides information into the national team about level crossings that local users believe are particularly dangerous to expedite improvements or closure.
She has spoken on local and national radio to gain commitment for changes and closures of level crossings.
She has appeared on local and national TV to promote awareness of the dangers of level crossings and to gain commitment and budget for change.
She writes a regular column for Network Rail’s quarterly newsletter.
She has written commentaries for The Times to expose the previously withheld risk assessments and the lack of transparency in Network Rail and to gain commitment from the Rail Regulator to re-open the investigation into the deaths of Olivia and Charlie at Elsenham.
She has lobbied the Secretary of State for Transport, her local MP and industry bodies to expose the poor risk management practices and non-disclosure of documents.
She watched as The Office of Rail Regulation undertook a forensic investigation of Network Rail’s IT system to locate documents that had not been provided to the Coroner, the Dept for Transport’s Rail Accident Investigation Branch or HMRI, the Rail Inspectorate at the time.
She went to the criminal court to watch Network Rail plead guilty to three breaches of the law that led to Olivia and Charlie’s deaths and pay the fine of £1m.
And perhaps most importantly she tells the Chief Executive when she thinks that the company, or it’s executives, is dragging its heels and asks for his assistance to unblock obstacles and resistance to the changes that are underway.