NETWORK Rail has been fined £450,000 for the death of a woman who was killed by a train at a level crossing.

Jane Harding, 52, a hairdresser at a salon in Bosbury, died after the car she was travelling in was struck by the train at Moreton-on-Lugg in January 2010.

Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd had denied failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees, while signalman Adrian Maund, 43, from Leominster, denied failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of railway crossing users.

Both were found guilty by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court in February following a three-week trial.

Network Rail was fined £450,000 with £33,000 costs. Maund was fined £1,750 with £750 costs and told to carry out 275 hours' unpaid work.

The car, being driven by Mrs Harding’s husband, Mark, 54, was struck by the train on the crossing after Maund raised the crossing barriers too early after mistakenly thinking the train had already passed.

The prosecution told the court that Network Rail had opted not to spend money on an automatic locking device.

Phillip Mott QC, prosecuting, told the jury that Maund had been distracted after a farmer rang his signal box for a second time asking if it was safe for him to walk his sheep across another crossing further up the track.

After speaking to the farmer, Maund mistakenly thought the train had passed and he pressed a button to lift the barriers.

Network Rail argued that the balance between the cost of installing approach locking and the risk of such an accident happening at Moreton-on-Lugg meant it was not reasonably practicable to install the added safety measure.

DC Paul Doorbar of British Transport police said: ““Mark has shown a tremendous amount of courage and dignity throughout the last three years and our thoughts remain with him and his family now, as they have done throughout the past three years."