Network Rail has been fined £4 million for a string of safety failures after a former actress was struck and killed by a train on a railway foot crossing.
Olive McFarland, who was a regular in TV dramas and films from the 1950s to the 1970s, died on the crossing near Needham Market, Suffolk, in August 2011.
The 82-year-old was hit by a train travelling at nearly 100mph on a section of track that a Network Rail employee said should have been restricted to 55mph, but this safety work was not done, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
At an earlier hearing at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court, Network Rail admitted being an employer in breach of a general duty of care for a period spanning from January 1999 to the day of Mrs McFarland’s death in 2011.
The company was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday.
A fine of £4m was imposed with Network Rail granted 28 days to pay, and it was ordered to pay costs of £35,857.
Mrs McFarland, 82, had starred alongside Sean Connery in the 1961 film The Frightened City.
She had a home at Creeting St Mary near Stowmarket, Suffolk, and lived in a care home in Eye.
In a statement issued after the hearing, Richard Schofield, route managing director at Network Rail, said: “We are truly sorry for the death of Miss McFarland.
“Since this tragic accident we have improved safety by introducing a speed restriction on the line and reducing the crossing distance by straightening the crossing and re-positioning the gates.
“However, this is not a permanent solution.
“We believe that removing the level crossing is the safest option and we are continuing to work with the local community to get their support to close this crossing.
“In the year following Miss McFarland’s death, the executive directors turned down their bonus entitlement and instead chose for this money to be reallocated to a safety improvement fund for level crossings.
“Since 2010 we have closed over 1,000 crossings and we are spending £100 million across the country improving level crossing safety.”