Mum of straight-A student, 16, killed by train sues Network Rail for £22,000

A mum whose teenage daughter was killed by a 'silent' night train is suing Network Rail over her child's death.

Straight-A student Milena Gagic, 16, died instantly when she was hit by the vehicle, which was travelling at around 55mph, at the level crossing in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in December 2014.

She had gone to the crossing late at night with her best friend, Amelia Hustwick, because it was 'a nice place to hang out', Central London County Court heard.

They sat between the train tracks 'laughing and giggling' because they wrongly believed trains did not run at night.

The pair, who had grown up in the local area, believed that if any train did approach, it would sound its horn.

In fact, the Network Rail banned night-time horn use in 2007 due to 'noise pollution complaints' and train operators were not allowed to use the horns between 11pm and 7am, the court heard.

The mother, Leanne Gagic, is now suing Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd for £22,124 in damages, although her barrister explained that her case is "not about money".

She blamed Network Rail for breaching its duty of care in failing to properly warn people that night trains no longer sounded their horns.

She claimed that a simple sign explaining that drivers would no longer sound their horn overnight would have saved Milena's life.

But Network Rail is disputing fault, denies breaching its duty and suggests Milena was herself to blame.

Signs may have been ineffective anyway, as studies suggest they are frequently missed, the rail infrastructure body claims.

Milena was studying for her A-levels when she died and dreamt of being a zoologist and 'wanted to go university very much', her mum told the court.

Barrister Stephen Glyn argued that it was hard to see and hear approaching trains at that particular crossing location due to the curvature of the track.

He also claimed locals such as Milena and Amelia would have been lulled into a false sense of security because train horns continued to sound during the day.

He also pointed out that Network Rail had long accepted there was a risk at the crossing because 'whistle boards' – which instruct drivers to sound their horn – were previously in place.

The train horn curfew was rolled out across the network as a 'blanket rule', Mr Glyn added.

Despite knowing of the risk to public safety, Network Rail had 'done nothing' to mitigate the risk after removing the whistle boards, he claimed before Judge Heather Bacuher.

Network Rail barrister, Helen Hobhouse, argued that its 'duty of care' was restricted to pedestrians crossing the track.

She also pointed out that studies show that signs are 'frequently not noticed or observed'.

She added: "There would have been no significant risk to anyone using the crossing between 11pm and 7am, provided they checked carefully in both directions before crossing the track."

The judge reserved judgement on the case until a later date.

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