It’s emerged the growth of vegetation at Northwich Station was the likely cause of its collapse.

This won’t come as a surprise to those who spotted greenery growing out of the structure prior to its failure in May 2021.

The Office of Rail and Road watchdog, which cited vegetation as the culprit in its annual health & safety report, is still investigating but I’m sure one of the questions they will consider is how this was not picked up.

Lessons must be learned because the Northwich incident could have led to deaths or serious injuries.

During a meeting with ORR, shortly after the collapse, I raised the possibility vegetation was involved and that surely alarm bells must have rung.

An eyewitness, a badly shaken female passenger, also relayed to me how she had seen a crack on the ticket office wall immediately before the collapse, although I don’t know how long it had been there for.

I was told Network Rail, who own the asset, carry out an annual visual inspection and a detailed inspection every five years. And I was informed the more thorough inspection had been done within the correct timeframe.

Yet Google Streetview pictures from the road bridge appear to show greenery growing from the station walls for every year captured going back to 2011!

I await the outcome of the inquiry with interest and am told it is nearing the end.

ORR, which enforces the Health & Safety at Work Act and railway laws, has the power to issue improvement and prohibition notices and can prosecute duty holders if it’s felt there has been flagrant law-breaking.

It is a worry when you read Network Rail has struggled to clear the backlog of railway structure inspections in recent years.

And it’s bound to make you wonder whether the Northwich Station collapse is indicative of a deeper malaise in our society given many of our public services are crumbling due to underfunding.

I’m not a railway buff – and no disrespect to anyone who is – but I’m certainly passionate about my constituents being able to get from A to B in an affordable, convenient and, above all, safe manner.

Labour has a comprehensive strategy to improve the UK’s rail infrastructure. And we would bring train operators back under public control to serve communities rather than shareholders.