A TROUBLED woman whose body was discovered on railway tracks near Harpenden took her own life while battling depression, an inquest ruled today.

Vivian Pinney was found on the morning of September 14, 2007, on the railway line just north of Harpenden train station near Cooters End Lane.

The 46-year-old mother, who had a history of depression, suffered multiple traumatic injuries after being hit by a high-speed train as she stood on the line.

An inquest into her death today heard how British Transport Police stumbled across her body while searching for the remains of an animal reported to have been struck by the driver of a passenger train the previous evening.

Mrs Pinney had been reported missing by Bedfordshire police the day before her body was discovered. She was last seen by her son at her home in Colwell Rise, Luton at noon on September 13.

Giving evidence today, Inspector Christopher Bragg from the British Transport Police, who attended the scene, said police initially suspected the passenger train, heading from Harpenden to Bedfordshire, had struck Mrs Pinney at around 9.30pm.

But further police investigations revealed Mrs Pinney had purchased cigarettes and made cash withdrawals hours after the train driver reported hitting something on the track.

Her car, a red Corsa found near to the incident site, had also been spotted in St Albans and other areas of the county just a couple of hours before her body was discovered at around 10.30am.

Detective Inspector Ciaran Dermody of the British Transport Police, who carried out the investigation, told the hearing that forensic evidence had not been able to link a particular train to the incident, but it was possible Mrs Pinney was struck by a heavy freight train where the collision may have gone unnoticed by its driver. He said hundreds of freight trains would have passed along that section of line that morning and the chances of identifying a train and linking it forensically with the scene was remote.

Coroner Edward Thomas said notes written by Mrs Pinney and addressed to her family were found in her car along with a sim card belonging to a mobile phone handed in at the Galleria in Hatfield the previous day. Mr Thomas said Mrs Pinney had wanted to make herself uncontactable and the notes were a clear indication that she intended to take her own life.

Recording a verdict of suicide, the coroner told her family: "It's clear to me she was troubled. The circumstances indicate to me that when she went on the railway line she knew what would happen.

"I can't begin to understand how awful this is for you and I am so sorry for her and for all of you.

"She was somebody who was loved and had a sparkle about her - she was a lovely lady."