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CrossCountry are naming a train in memory of those who lost their lives at the tragic level crossing accident which happened in the small Staffordshire village of Hixon in 1968.
The event, which takes places on Thursday 19 August at Stafford station, will see a CrossCountry train named ‘Hixon, 6th January 1968’ believed to be the first naming after an incident. Industry partners, Pete Waterman representing the Railway Benefit Fund (RBF) and representatives from the community of Hixon will gather for the commemoration.
Locals have already created their own memorial garden in the village to commemorate those who lost their lives. CrossCountry and Network Rail have used volunteer hours to remove damaged and overgrown trees in the garden as well as helping with the upkeep throughout the year.
A replica naming plate has been presented to the community and displayed in their Memorial Hall. A final replica name plate provided by Alstom will be presented to Pete Waterman to be auctioned off to raise funds for the RBF, who raise money to help railway men and women that need support.
The Manchester to Euston train which was carrying 300 passengers back in January 1968 collided with a road transporter carrying a 120-tonne transformer over the automatic crossing. The train driver, his assistant, a spare driver and eight passengers died in the crash. The incident launched a thorough enquiry, which saw changes made to level crossings across Britain and the crossing at Hixon was later replaced by a bridge.
CrossCountry have also contributed £3,000 to support the local memorial, which will provide for a new shed for their equipment and support replacing the vandalised window in the adjoining church that overlooks the garden. Network Rail have also matched the contribution, and Avanti West Coast and North Staffs Community Rail Partnership have added a further £1,500. Train Drivers’ union ASLEF have rallied around through their branches, welfare societies and union representatives raising £1,385 towards the project.
Tom Joyner, CrossCountry’s Managing Director said, “We are delighted to be able to help the people of Hixon continue their work to remember the tragic events of 1968. Although such incidents are rare, their impact is often felt beyond the railway boundary, so it is especially pleasing to see so many industry colleagues coming together to support this project and the local community.”
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, said, “The naming of this train is an apt tribute to all the individuals, families and community who were affected by the tragic events which unfolded at Hixon. We always prioritise safety across our rail network, to protect passengers and staff, and ensure the lessons are learned from these devastating accidents.”
Tim Shoveller, Managing Director of Network Rail’s North West and Central region, said: “It’s an honour to support this train naming ceremony and local people with their continued efforts to remember those killed and seriously injured in the Hixon rail disaster. While safety on the railway has progressed enormously since 1968, it’s essential we remember the lessons from tragic events so they are never repeated, and we can continue to improve for the future.”
The stained-glass window being made by a local expert from reclaimed glass will contain the British Railways Lion to represent the incident, the RAF roundel for the local base, and the keys of St Peters for the church. An unveiling will happen once the window has been installed.
For further information please contact for information:
CrossCountry press enquiries - Tel: 0121 200 6115 or email: email@example.com
Notes to Editors:
CrossCountry’s network is the most geographically-extensive passenger rail franchise in Britain. Stretching from Aberdeen to Penzance and from Stansted to Cardiff, it calls at over 100 stations. Based in Birmingham, CrossCountry connects seven of the Britain’s 10 largest cities and delivers 298 services every weekday, equating to some 40 million passenger journeys a year.
For further information on CrossCountry services visit crosscountrytrains.co.uk or follow them online via Twitter at @crosscountryuk or Facebook.com/crosscountrytrains
CrossCountry is part of the Arriva group, one of the leading providers of passenger transport in Europe. Arriva employs over 53,000 people and delivers over 2 billion passenger journeys across 14 European countries each year