A TRAIN driver had to recall the trauma of hitting a young woman on the railway line in York almost eight years ago, when a much-delayed inquest was finally held yesterday.

Former GNER driver Brian Gray, who now works for successor York train firm East Coast, gave evidence at the hearing into the death of Naomi Coley-Rogan in Dringhouses on September 6, 2006.

He told the inquest at New Earswick that he was travelling south-west out of York at about 90-95 mph when his train hit the 22-year-old woman, who was sitting on the tracks.

He said he came around a corner and saw an engine coming towards him before he looked down and saw her.

Mr Gray, who has been a train driver since 1980, said he never heard a radioed warning broadcast to drivers by Network Rail that there was a woman on the line, which had been issued after another driver had driven past her while on a different track and had alerted the control room. The inquest heard that even if he had heard the warning, Mr Gray would not have been able to stop his train in time.

The Press reported earlier this week that the inquest was just one of a number of investigations which have been outstanding for a number of years.

York’s new acting senior coroner Jonathan Leach said he became aware of the delays when he was appointed to the position, following Donald Coverdale’s retirement as York Coroner in July, and was arranging for them to be concluded as soon as possible.

The inquest was told that Ms Coley-Rogan, who was originally from Huddersfield but had been living in secure accommodation in Manchester, had been suffering from mental health problems for several years.

Mr Leach concluded that her death was suicide.

The inquest was told she got permission to go into Manchester city centre unaccompanied, having given no indication that she was suicidal at that time. She bought a single train ticket to Scarborough but was thought to have got off in York. It was not known why she had come to the city, as she was not believed to have visited it previously.

Anyone experiencing feelings of depression and contemplating suicide can phone York Samaritans on 01904 655888.