A man was killed when he put his head out the window of train travelling at more than 60mph and struck a gantry, an inquest has heard.

Passengers were horrified after they heard what they described as a "loud thud" when Simon Brown suffered fatal head injuries.

Westminster Coroners' Court heard how his head struck a signal gantry near Balham while the train was travelling approximately 61mph and that the guard's window, where Mr Brown stood, was one of just two on the train which could open despite the trains operating without guards.

Mr Brown, 24, was travelling on a Gatwick Express train on August 7 last year when the incident happened, the Mirror Online reports .

The inquest heard the window was not for public use but there was public access to it and it was already opened.

Eyewitness

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Eyewitness Kirstin Duffield was traveling on the train with her daughter when Mr Brown was struck.

She told the inquest: "I hear a loud thud and I was aware the man in the corridor area was collapsed on the floor.

"As I looked up there was a female sitting in the window seat who looked across her seat to look around the seat behind her and could see the male had collapsed.

"I looked at the woman, saying 'Oh my God.'

"I got up and noticed the man was breathing and there was a lot of blood on the floor around his head."

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A passenger pulled the emergency cord and the train slowed down while Ms Duffield stopped people from going near Mr Brown as the driver came down to where he lay injured.

The train moved to Wandsworth Common station where Ms Duffield helped clear passengers off the train as emergency services arrived.

Family

Members of Mr Brown's family thanked her "remarkable composure in taking control of the situation."

Jane Street, Mr Brown's mother had her statement read out by the coroner.

She said: "He was a railway man through and through. He was neither reckless or ignorant of the dangers of that environment."

She added: "His enthusiasm for life was infectious to everyone."

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His father Mike Brown had a meal with his son a week before he died and said: "Everyone he met was infected by his enthusiasm for railways."

He added: "I have never seen him so relaxed, hopeful and enthusiastic about the future."

Mr Brown was described by his family as a "train fanatic" and at 13-years-old, he volunteered on the Bluebell Line near his family home in East Grinstead, Sussex.

He volunteered hundreds of hours each year and became the youngest trustee of The Howden Trust at 19.

Investigation

Mark Young from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) investigated the incident and found the door Mr Brown was next to had a notice saying "do not lean out of window when train is moving'.

In 2015 Network Rail found the distance between the moving train and the signal gantry was 68mm which is within regulatory requirements.

A month after the death the RAIB tested distance and found the clearance between the train and the signal was 260mm when the train was static.

Mr Young said the distance measured was was within requirements for the line.

Simon Brown death: Report finds 'no evidence' to suggest why rail enthusiast stuck his head out of Gatwick Express train window

He told the inquest the distance between the gantry and moving trains was found to be negative in 2013, creating a risk of it hitting a train but work was done in February 2015 to restore it back to a positive distance.

During the investigation damage was found on the gantry but it was "likely to be from an engineering train" but no evidence as to how the damage was caused.

Mr Young said: "Firstly, there was the fact his head was out the window. We don't have any evidence as why that was the case

"CCTV at Gatwick, shows as train arrived in the station inbound, somebody had opened the window as it arrived into the station."

Colin Morris, head of health and safety at Govia Thameslink Railway which owns Gatwick Express and Southern Rail.

He told the court since March last year there are no longer any rolling stock on the line which had windows which could open.

The inquest continues.

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