Rail campaigner revisits site of 1990s station car crash accident

philippa coughlan at bexhill rail station
philippa coughlan at bexhill rail station

Last Wednesday saw local protestors outside Bexhill railway station supporting the ‘Bring Back British Rail’ anti-privatisation campaign, but this was no April Fool joke.

For Philipa Coughlan this was “a highly emotional” return to the front forecourt of the station where, 22 years ago, on the same spot, she was hit by an out-of-control car driven by an elderly woman, resulting in life-alterating injuries.

It is a day that will always remain etched on my mind

Philipa, 31 at the time, had been waiting for MP Tony Banks and the Observer reported how “horrified onlookers” had seen her hit by the vehicle, as had her husband who was nearby with their three year old son. When Mr Banks arrived wearing his badge proclaiming Stop The Sell-Off - Save Our Railways, he was shocked by the news of what happened as Philipa was rushed to hospital in Hastings.

However Philipa has been back again alerting passengers to the financial impact of rail privatisation on passengers, the very subject she and other campaigners had been highlighting in 1993.

“It is a shame we are here again after all these years raising similar concerns,” she said.

“We are getting a lot of support - a passenger has even bought us all cups of coffee!”

Philipa added: “I also wanted to maybe exorcise some demons from that day. Only a handful of Labour members from then are still alive, so we are remembering people like Tony Banks MP and Cllr Joan Winterbottom who were so supportive after my accident. My husband Dominic, who was campaigning too that day, is also no longer alive, although I have my sons beside me, and true comrades and friends who have remained loyal over the years.

“It is a day that will always remain etched on my mind.”