A man killed at a level-crossing in Yarnton in Oxfordshire this afternoon may have been the victim of technical problems which have beset the crossing for years, according to a source in the railway industry.

“I just knew this was going to happen,” my contact told me a few minutes ago.

The man, who was in a car, was killed by a freight train at the Sandy Lane crossing just north of Oxford and south of Kidlington.

According to my source, the crossing has had technical problems for a long time.

“There’s been an ongoing fault for four years,” the source says.

“The Network Rail maintenance team have not been able to fix it. The barrier arms stay down much longer than they should do.”

This means that during busy periods, queues of traffic build up on either side of the line.

“So if there is a case where a freight train, say, quickly follows a passenger train then the queue of cars may not have been cleared before the barriers come down again.”

Another problem is that there is no CCTV at the level-crossing, and also a sharp bend in the road next to the crossing means that cars move very slowly.

A spokesman for British Transport Police is quoted as saying this afternoon: “It is believed two people were in the vehicle at the time. Sadly one of them, a man, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“The train involved was a Trafford Park to Southampton freight service, and the driver is reported to be shaken but uninjured. Officers are working to establish the full circumstances including how the car came to be on the tracks at the time.”

It’s not clear whether the long-standing fault is responsible for today’s fatal accident, but my rail source says he would not be surprised if it was.

“This fault has been on-going for donkey’s years. No-one seems to want to fix it, or to know how to fix it. I knew this was going to happen,” he said.

However, a Network Rail spokesman said: “The crossing is in full working order and we are assisting British Transport Police and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch as they work to determine the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident.

“Of course it is for the Rail Accident Investigation Branch to determine the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident and we will continue to assist them in every possible way. It is our understanding that the barrier closing sequence is not central to the investigation.”