A young woman was killed on a Christmas shopping trip when she leaned out of train window - and was hit by a tree or a branch in the dark, an inquest heard today.

Bethan Roper, 28, was on her way home with friends and died in front of their eyes in the train horror.

Charity worker Bethan travelled from her home in Penarth, South Wales, to Bath's Christmas market with half-a-dozen friends for their annual shopping jaunt.

But the inquest heard she suffered serious head injuries while travelling between Bath and Keynsham. Friends battled to save her - but was pronounced dead at Bristol Temple Meads station.

The inquest heard that while leaning out of a train window she may have hit her head on a tree.

Miss Roper suffered "unsurvivable injuries" as the friends returned home at 10.10pm on December 1.

Avon Coroner's Court heard Bethan may have hit her head on a branch or a tree near Keynsham.

Three separate investigations will now be carried out into her death - by the British Transport Police, Office of Rail and Road and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

These are expected to take up to 12 weeks. The hearing was adjourned until March 20.

Miss Roper worked for the Welsh Refugee Council, having graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2013.

The charity, a sister organisation to the UK-wide Refugee Council, works to help asylum seekers and refugees in Wales.

She was also a campaigner and was chairman of Young Socialists Cardiff.

Her father Adrian said: "She was beautiful in every way. Our pain couldn't be sharper or more justified, but I know that her goodness and fullness of spirit will live on in our hearts and actions."

“She enjoyed life to the full whilst working tirelessly for a better world.

"She was also a much loved sister, daughter, grand-daughter and niece.

“All of us who knew Bethan have been very privileged."

British Transport Police (BTP) said its initial inquiries suggested she may have been leaning out of a carriage window at the time.

A BTP spokesman said a day after the incident: "We were called at around 10.10pm following a report a woman had received serious head injuries while travelling on a train between Bath and Keynsham.

"Officers from British Transport Police attended along with colleagues from Avon and Somerset Police and South Western Ambulance Service, but despite their best efforts the woman died at the scene.

"Our investigation remains at an early stage, but initial inquiries suggest the woman may have been leaning out of a window when she suffered a blow to the head."