The death of a man who was electrocuted while cleaning a train at a depot in St Leonards was “an accident waiting to happen,” an inquest heard.
Roger Lower, aged 46, died instantly at the depot in Cliftonville Road.
Coroner Alan Craze delivered the remark after a jury unanimously returned a conclusion of death by accident at an inquest held at Eastbourne Town Hall on Tuesday (April 7). The jury heard how Mr Lower had been on his usual night shift cleaning trains at the railway cleaning sheds when he accidentally fell or stumbled on to a live rail, killing him instantly.
Live rails were not commonly isolated to protect cleaners at the time of the accident in May last year and plastic safety boards designed to cover areas of live rail near where staff were working were rarely used, the Coroner was told.
Representing train-cleaning company Wettons, Mr Lower’s employer, barrister James Ageros told the inquest that this has now changed. The company, which has a contract to clean trains in London and the South East, now refuses to provide its services unless live rails are switched off within cleaning sheds. Mr Ageros added that these reforms had been adopted across the industry since the tragedy which killed Mr Lower. Wettons has implemented 24 separate amendments to its procedures since the event. The jury heard from witnesses, including several of Mr Lower’s colleagues who were working with him at the time of the accident.
One of them, Glenn Crowley, described how Mr Lower had been cleaning one side of a train alone. He said: “Myself and a colleague were cleaning the other side of the train. We then went to find Roger and could not see him. Then I noticed something lying on the track.
“As I moved closer, I realised it was Roger. I saw sparks and realised he was in contact with the live rail.”
Mr Crowley and colleagues raised the alarm and emergency services were called. Attempts to resuscitate him failed and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The inquest heard a statement from Mr Lower’s former wife Sam Chamberlain who which described him as “popular man, always laughing.”
She said he had “everything to live for” and was dearly looking forward to becoming a grandfather. His son Dale and his partner were expecting a baby which they named Bobby Roger in his memory.