Rail crossing death

The crossing point

Reports have been received of the tragic death of a 36 year old man from Northiam. It happened at the Gibbets Marsh to Winchelsea Road pedestrian rail crossing on Saturday, June 5 at around 12:45pm. Floral tributes have been laid at the side of the railway line.

This crossing has been the scene of tragedy a number of times in recent years. There are notices on each approach gate, placed by the Samaritans organisation, saying:”Talk to us.”

Access to the line crossing used not to be so easy. When the signalling system was by manually operated levers, the wire which activated movement of the semaphore, giving the train driver permission to proceed, also caused the pedestrian gates to close in the locked position. This safety measure was discontinued when the signalling system became electric and warning lights replaced the semaphore arm.

If and when the Marshlink line gets electrified, it would be possible to reinstate an automatic gate locking safety scheme. Meanwhile, the scene holds its tragic and fatal attraction for those in desperate straits.

Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .


  1. Then to stop this happening again to another desperate soul this system needs to be reinstated to stop other families going through such heartache

  2. A tragic incident indeed. But ease of access to the railway isn’t really significant at all. Imagine the desperate pain this individual must have been in – the decimation of community services meant there is no practical help available to him. Even the Samaritans have a reduced presence and it’s not easy to get through on the phone. There was no where for him to turn at the moment of greatest need.

    Barriers to the railway line are not a solution. A more compassionate, less judgemental community probably would help. There should be no shame and judgement attached to individual struggles especially those related to lack of income. At Rye Food Bank opportunities for weekly consultation with a welfare officer has made a real difference. A Family Support Worker has also taken up residence at St Mary’s Centre for three days a week. Help and accompaniment should always be available in time of need. We can all play a part in providing this.

    God rest his soul and also hope the train driver recovers from such trauma.

  3. Always utterly heartbreaking to read of those who have sought and found a way to end their own lives ( outside Dignitas etc ).
    Without wishing to denigrate the doubtless wonderful Samaritans , in any way , perhaps the tone of their well-intentioned message might be read as even more welcoming to presumably exhausted souls were it replaced with:
    ‘ We love you – please let us help you ? ‘
    Meanwhile, deep condolences to the family & friends of the deceased. RIP.

    • Entirely agree – the best situation would be though to show that we are loved in our communities and love and support is shown to those on the margins and who are struggling like this fellow certainly was

  4. This is terribly sad, particularly given the circumstances, although I have no information on this. I recall in the late nineteen-fifties, when I was a child in the then Ferry Road Primary School, our form teacher breaking the news to us that the brother of one of our class members had been killed that morning in exactly the same spot. I assume that incident was an accident, probably caused by misjudging how long it would take to cross.

    On the wider issue of the Samaritans, yes volunteers are ever more difficult to recruit. I’m also afraid that various changes in recent years, particularly the move to a national phone number, abandoning individual local branch contact numbers, has stripped out local contact support. I’ve heard it said that it’s now a bit like contacting a national call centre.

  5. I don’t think we should dismiss the idea of the gates being controlled or closed with an alternative route over the railway line. Clearly it’s been considered as reported in Rye News

    There has been several suicides over in the same spot over the past 10 years. It really is tragic and incomprehensible that someone would take their own life in such a way. However, I do think removing the accessibility may help.


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