A FATAL level crossing crash that killed a Herefordshire woman was caused by a signaller’s error, a report has found.

Jane Harding died when the car she was a passenger in was struck by a 60mph train at Moreton-on-Lugg crossing in January 2010.

A report released this week by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) found that the signaller in charge of the crossing accidentally raised the barriers having been distracted by a phonecall from a farmer.

Mrs Harding, a 52-year-old hairdresser from Marden, was airlifted to Hereford County Hospital but later died.

According to the report, the signaller received a call from the farmer, who was on land just up the line, wanting to take sheep across the track. He was refused because there was an oncoming train heading to Milford Haven that had left Leominster.

Just four minutes later the same person called back telling the signaller the train had passed but he was told it would still be tight letting him cross as a train heading north had just left Hereford.

Having ended the call the signaller noticed the level crossing barriers remained closed and that cars were waiting.

He said he thought he heard the vehicles revving their engines and assumed the train had passed and that the drivers were getting impatient to go on their way, so he lifted the barriers.

The report says the signaller realised his error only when he saw the train out of the corner of his eye.

He tried to recover his mistake by lowering the barriers but there wasn’t enough time. He immediately called the emergency services.

One of the RAIB’s recommendations was to assess the need for “additional engineered safety measures”

to prevent human error.

Mrs Harding’s husband Mark, driving the black Volkswagen Touareg, suffered shoulder and pelvic injuries in the collision.

A gold Vauxhall Astra was subsequently hit, injuring a mother and her 12-year-old daughter.

British Transport Police spokesman Brian Price said a 41-year-old man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter as a result of the crash was currently on bail as investigations continue.