Herts and Essex Observer praised by killed girls' parents

The Herts and Essex Observer has been praised by the parents of two teenage girls who were killed by a speeding train, after its campaign helped force Network Rail to install a gate locking system.

Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson were struck by the train last December at an unmanned level crossing at Elsenham station.

The girls’ parents began talks with Network Rail, calling for locked gates and a footbridge at the site. The Observer launched a high-profile Get It Locked campaign to keep the issue of preventing people using the crossing when trains were due high on the agenda, and handed a 3,500-strong petition to the company.

Network Rail initially tried to persuade the Observer to stop its campaign, claiming locking the gates would make it less safe.

But after months of the paper’s campaigning, Network Rail announced it would install the locking system and build a footbridge.

News editor Sandra Perry said: “There is no doubt that our campaign played a major part in helping to get Network Rail to act in this way. It shows what can be achieved when the newspaper and readers rally round a cause and feel so strongly about something that they just won’t let go.

“The girls’ parents have also praised the campaign and the support of our readers and, while the outcome won’t bring back Olivia and Charlotte, it at least means that this crossing will be much safer and will hopefully prevent other families suffering such a tragic loss of life.”

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