A grieving widow lay on railway tracks in front of a 70mph train less than a year after losing her husband to cancer.

Gill Tanner was killed instantly when she was hit by the train at Southwick railway station, close to her home in The Crescent, Southwick.

An inquest at Worthing Town Hall heard today that sewing room assistant Mrs Tanner, 52, had kissed her daughter goodbye that morning when she left for work before driving to the station and buying a ticket to Shoreham.

She walked to the end of the platform onto the tracks and laid down in front of the approaching 9.37am train on July 9.

West Sussex coroner Roger Stone recorded a verdict of suicide.

He said: "We cannot know whether when she bought a ticket she had intended to catch a train. This may have been an impulsive gesture while she has been suffering a low mood."

The inquest heard Mrs Tanner had a history of depression which had become more severe in the last three years of her life.

She was receiving care from a community mental health team and took anti-depressants on a day-to-day basis.

Her husband Alan Tanner had died in September 2006 from abdominal cancer, a condition which ran in the family.

The couple had been together for 37 years, since Mrs Tanner was a teenager.

The inquest heard she had a good period seven weeks before her death after being given a Jack Russell puppy but a few weeks later her mood dropped again.

Mr Stone said: "It is a huge family tragedy to lose mother and father in such a short space of time."

After the inquest Mrs Tanner's family said they were too upset to talk about her death.

The train which hit her had been travelling from Haywards Heath to Littlehampton. The driver used his brakes as soon as he realised he had hit something and brought the train to a halt 400m along the line.

The line was closed for an hour after the collision while police examined the scene and removed the body. Rail travel was disrupted throughout the day.

The death happened close to where housewife Edwina Butler had died four years earlier.

Mrs Butler, from Thornhill Rise, Portslade, was seen on CCTV footage walking down the platform and standing in the path of a train travelling at 50mph. She suffered from manic depression.