Fri, 16 Dec 2016
A bridge to replace the level crossing at Ufton Nervet opened today (Friday) with a survivor of the 2004 crash saying that the £7m structure has provided a form of closure.
Seven people died and more than 120 were injured when a train hit a car that had been deliberately parked on the crossing and derailed 12 years ago.
Since the tragedy, on November 6, 2004, a further four people have died at the crossing, taking the number of fatalities to 11.
Twelve years on and members of the Ufton Nervet survivors' support group, Network Rail and Great Western Railway staff, councillors and residents gathered at a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the bridge to replace and close the tragic crossing.
Survivor Jane Hawker said: "It is hard for me to put into words what the opening of the bridge at Ufton Nervet means to me.
"As a survivor of the 2004 crash, I will always live with the memories and the consequences, but the closure of the crossing means that I will no longer dread hearing about another incident happening there. It gives me a form of closure, and makes the area safer for the wider public."
Train driver Stanley Martin was one of the seven people to die in the incident.
Speaking at today's ceremony his widow Deborah Scanlon used the opportunity to provide a positive message about the future, including that her son James would be following in his father's footsteps and becoming a train driver.
She said: "Twelve years is a long time and we have all needed to move forward, but we will never forget those we lost and we now have a permanent safe structure, which I feel is a fitting tribute to our loved ones."
Great Western Railway's head of drivers, Mark Heffernan, who was station manager at Reading in 2004, said that the "appalling tragedy" still resonated with drivers, train crew, passengers and the local community.
"It was a terrible, terrible incident and one that we all agreed should never happen again," said.
Regional director of infrastructure projects for Network Rail, Robbie Burns, said that the bridge was a fool proof method to prevent a repeat of the 2004 crash.
"The closure of this level crossing has been a long-time coming for those affected by the tragedy in 2004 and we are pleased that we have now been able to separate road from rail traffic at this site."
For more, see the next edition of the Newbury Weekly News.