A TRAIN operator has been fined £1 million after a passenger was killed when he put his head out of a carriage window.

Simon Brown, 24, from East Grinstead, West Sussex, suffered catastrophic injuries when his head hit a signal gantry as he leaned out of a Gatwick Express train travelling at 61mph towards Wandsworth Common station in south London.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which runs the service, pleaded guilty to a health and safety breach at a previous hearing over Mr Brown's death on August 7, 2016.

Sentencing the company at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC ordered the firm to pay a £1 million fine.

It was also ordered to pay £52,267 in costs.

Ian Prosser, the Office of Rail and Road's director of safety and HM Chief Inspector of Railways, said: "Our thoughts remain with Simon Brown's family and friends at this particularly difficult time.

"It is to GTR's credit that they pleaded guilty to the offence and spared the family the pain of a protracted court case.

"We are also pleased that the court recognised the severity of the offence and reflected that in the sentence passed.

"There are still some trains with droplight windows operating on the network and we have written to operators instructing them to take immediate action to prevent a similar tragedy happening again."

Mr Brown was described by friends as a "life-long railway fanatic".

He first volunteered on the Bluebell Railway as a nine-year-old and later took up a position as an engineering technician with Hitachi Rail Europe in Bristol.

Friend Reuben Smith told The Argus: "Railways were his life.

"I have known him since we were 12. It is very sad.

"Simon was a great friend of ours and a real light in the railway world.

"He was always smiling, cheerful and would bend over backwards to help anyone.

"There's now a massive hole in our close-knit community where he was.

"He has been taken from us at the age of 24 - it's far too young."