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3 January 2013, 17:28 | Updated: 3 January 2013, 17:40
A man who was killed when a car was hit by a freight train on an Oxfordshire level crossing yesterday was named by police today as 85-year-old Thomas Pizzey.
Mr Pizzey, from Banbury, was a passenger in a blue Renault Kangoo that was hit at a crossing in Sandy Lane near Yarnton, north of Oxford, yesterday afternoon.
In a statement released by British Transport Police, his niece Linda Mogford said: "My Uncle Tom was a kind, generous and gentle man and this incident has come as a great shock to all the family.
"We would like to thank everyone for their kind messages of support at this very difficult and sad time and extend our sympathies to those who knew Tom in Banbury.
"He will be greatly missed by his family and those who loved him and we would ask for privacy to grieve and come to terms with our loss.''
The driver of the car, a 78-year-old man, is in a stable condition in Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital, BTP added.
The crash happened on a rural crossing in a quiet country lane between Yarnton and Kidlington shortly before 3.40pm yesterday. The driver of the freight train, en route from Trafford Park in Greater Manchester to Southampton, was shaken but uninjured.
British Transport Police said yesterday that he pulled the emergency brake but was unable to stop in time.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Taylor said: "The investigation into last night's incident continues and I'd urge anyone who was at the crossing at the time or who has information to get in touch.
"Detectives will be working tirelessly to establish the full circumstances into exactly what took place, including how the car came to be on the tracks."
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch and the Office of Rail Regulation have been informed and officers will continue to prepare a file for the coroner, he said.
Trains to destinations including Oxford, Banbury, Basingstoke, Reading, Leamington Spa, Coventry and Birmingham New Street were affected as the line was closed for several hours.
A Network Rail spokeswoman said it was working with BTP to determine how the accident happened. "The level crossing was in full working order beforehand,'' she said.
"The lights were working and the barriers. That is part of the investigation so we will be looking at that. There is nothing to suggest it was not working beforehand.''
She said there had been a problem at the crossing a year ago, with the barrier rising and falling slowly, but it had been fixed when a treadle, which operates the crossing when triggered by an approaching train, was replaced.