Monday, May 15, 2006


Tum podem extulit horridulum

Again we are forced to confront our worst demons in an article in the Sunday Times reprising the tragic death of Olivia Bazlington and her friend, Charlotte Thompson - two young girls killed whist running to catch a train.

This tragedy, back in December, forced me to write to the EDP protesting the lack of proper pedestrian crossings at so many stations. In response, the paper printed comments from Network Rail:

Network Rail General Manager Phil Heath said: "I find it unbelievable that people are behaving so irresponsibly at railway crossings. By running across when the light is red they are risking their lives, seemingly just to catch a train."

In my original blog, I was upset by Phil's insensitivity. Now I'm outraged. I pray that Phil is a Sunday Times reader or that someone cuts out the article and pins it to his door.

Charlotte's father, Reg, kept a diary chronicling how the family coped with the loss of Charlotte. As Shakespeare's Mark Antony so eloquently said, "If you have tears, prepare to shed them now." Reg's account of every parent's worst nightmare is truly a fitting tribute to his daughter's memory and an inditement of the callous Network Rail officials who are partly responsible for Charlotte's death. By not providing safe places to cross tracks, they are as guilty as any drunk driver who smashes into an innocent pedestrian.

Yet, they have the gall to attempt to blame the pedestrians for running to catch trains.

In her Sunday Times article Ann McFerran lets the bereaved father do the talking - to great effect. His diary, written on the family's computer, speaks volumes for those who can no longer speak for themselves, namely the two young girls killed that day. When he writes, "I have decided that I might sue the railway company. The station must be made safe. Trust me on this one. I won't give up, not ever." - I want to rush out and find the person(s) responsible for this atrocity and make them read this father's anguish to their own children as a bed-time story. Maybe then they would listen.

I am hoping that Reg will not give up in his fight to make rail stations safe for all. I am hoping that this story will not be buried by the "bean counters" who run Network Rail and most of our public services. I am hoping that these two innocent girls will not have died in vain. I'm hoping.

I am also hoping that the journalist who wrote the article for the Sunday Times will continue to research this story.

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