The window of a train where a woman died after leaning out and hitting her head on a branch was fitted with a warning sign, an initial investigation has found.
A yellow Caution label above the door read ‘Do not lean out of window when train is moving’, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has reported.
Today the RAIB released initial findings from its investigation into the death of Bethan Roper, 28, who died returning home from a Christmas shopping trip December 1.
The charity worker, from Penarth in south Wales, suffered fatal head injuries when she leaned out of the window of a train travelling 85mph between Bath and Keynsham in Somerset.
She was pronounced dead at Bristol Temple Meads station.
A statement from the RAIB reads: “At around 22:04 hrs on 1 December 2018, a passenger travelling on a train from Bath to Bristol struck her head on a tree branch near to Twerton, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of Bath Spa station.
“The train was travelling at about 85 mph (137 km/h) and the passenger sustained fatal injuries.
“The train was the 20:30 Paddington to Exeter service formed of a GWR High Speed Train (HST).
Witness evidence indicates the passenger was standing at a door on the side facing away from the other track.
The report continued: “The door was fitted with an opening droplight window, which is used to access the door handle fitted to the outside of the door.
“A yellow ‘Caution’ label above the door states ‘Do not lean out of window when train is moving’.
“The window was reported to have been opened and the passenger had her head out of the window.
“Our investigation will encompass examination of the measures in place to control the risks from persons leaning out of train windows, including the threat from vegetation.”
An inquest into her death was opened and adjourned on December 19 2018 at Avon Coroners’ Court, near Bristol. It will resume on March 20.
Bethan was working for the Welsh Refugee Council at the time of her death, having graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2013.
The charity, a sister organisation to the UK-wide Refugee Council, works to help asylum seekers and refugees in Wales.
She was also a campaigner and chairman of Young Socialists Cardiff.
Bethan’s family have previously paid tribute to their daughter.
Bethan’s father, Adrian, said: “Bethan had a big close network of friends with whom she loved to go to music festivals and clubs or just spend time with, talking and laughing.
“She also travelled the world for six months with her soulmate, Lizzy, making more friends from around the world.
“They also went cage-diving with sharks in South Africa several times together.
“She was an avid reader, podcast listener and film watcher, with a deep insight into the world around her.
“She enjoyed life to the full whilst working tirelessly for a better world. She was also a much loved sister, daughter, grand-daughter and niece.
“All of us who knew Bethan have been very privileged. She was beautiful in every way.
“Our pain couldn’t be sharper or more justified, but I know that her goodness and fullness of spirit will live on in our hearts and actions.”