Network Rail has been fined £500,000 for health and safety breaches that led to a ten year old boy being seriously injured at a level crossing near Beccles in 2010.

James How was a passenger in a pick-up truck when he was hit by a train. The unmanned level crossing had no phones to check if trains were due, with gates that have to be opened by hand.

The boy was thrown from the vehicle with serious head injuries after landing on the track. The ORR said the crash was caused by poor visibility when people were crossing from the south side.

Network Rail pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay £23,500 in costs on top of the fine. A telephone has since been fitted, and one gate moved to the track to improve the view of approaching trains.

Speaking after the sentence, Ian Prosser, ORR director of safety, said: “Our investigation found evidence Network Rail knew the crossing was unsafe for ten years, and yet took no action.

“This is unacceptable from a company responsible for protecting the safety of millions.”

Richard Schofield, Network Rail’s route managing director, said: “Fundamental changes to the way we manage the region’s level crossings have been made.

“We have a nationwide programme investing £130m to upgrade or close level crossings where possible.”