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2011-05-13 ORR-001
Office of Rail Regulation

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Network Rail fined 3m over Potters Bar derailment


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Office of Rail Regulation

Network Rail fined 3m over Potters Bar derailment
_______________________________________________________________


date
13 May 2011
source Office of Rail Regulation
type Press release



Network Rail, as the successor to Railtrack, has been fined 3 million and ordered to pay costs of 150,000 following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for a health and safety offence which caused the Potters Bar derailment.

The fine brings to a close ORR's criminal proceedings against Network Rail, which began in November 2010. These proceedings arose from the derailment of a West Anglia Great Northern train at Potters Bar station in Hertfordshire on 10 May 2002. Seven people were killed, with many more seriously injured. Railtrack was responsible for running the rail infrastructure when the accident occurred.

At St Albans Crown Court today Network Rail was sentenced after being charged under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA). It failed, as infrastructure controller for the national rail network, to provide and implement suitable and sufficient standards, procedures and guidance for the installation, maintenance and inspection of adjustable stretcher bars. Network Rail pleaded guilty to the charge.

Director of rail safety at ORR, Ian Prosser, said:

Today marks the end of a long process in which we have sought to gain a sense of justice for the families of the victims of the Potters Bar derailment. It is welcome that Network Rail, as the successor to Railtrack, pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches demonstrating that, under its new management it is now an organisation willing to take responsibility and learn from past mistakes. Safety on Britain's railways has improved significantly over the last nine years and, today, statistics show we have one of the safest railways in Europe. But there can be no room for complacency. The safety culture of the rail industry can be significantly strengthened. As long as the regulator continues to have to step in to enforce improvements or bring prosecutions where things have gone wrong as we have done many times this year then, despite progress, it is clear that the industry has significant work still to do.

Notes to editors

At the time of the incident the infrastructure controller for the national rail network was Railtrack plc (in railway administration). Railtrack plc was taken over by Network Rail Limited in October 2002 and later renamed Network Rail Infrastructure Limited.

The train that derailed was the West Anglia Great Northern 12.45pm Cambridge Cruiser service from King's Cross to King's Lynn.

On 17 October 2005 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that, after consideration of the evidence, it had advised the British Transport Police (BTP) that there was no realistic prospect of conviction for an offence of gross negligence manslaughter against any individual or corporation arising from the Potters Bar incident.

In February 2007, following a fatal derailment of a train at Grayrigg, the inquest into the fatalities at Potters Bar was adjourned, pending the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport on whether a public inquiry or joint inquest should be held into the Potters Bar and Grayrigg incidents. In June 2009 the Secretary of State for Transport decided that separate inquests should be held into the Potters Bar and Grayrigg incidents.
As a signatory to the Work Related Death Protocol, ORR has agreed not to prosecute for health and safety offences prior to an inquest unless waiting for the inquest to be completed would prejudice the case. A copy of the protocol can be found at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/misc491.pdf

The inquest into the deaths at Potters Bar took place during June and July 2010; the jury returned seven verdicts of accidental death.

In October 2010 the CPS informed ORR that it had decided that there were no grounds for it to reconsider its decision of October 2005. ORR announced its decision to prosecute Network Rail on 10 November 2010.
Network Rail Infrastructure Limited pleaded guilty to the charge that, between 31 March 2001 and 11 May 2002, it failed to conduct its undertaking as the infrastructure controller for the national rail network in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment who may be affected thereby were not exposed to risks to their safety, in that it failed to provide and implement suitable and sufficient training, standards, procedures, guidance or other specifications for the installation, maintenance and inspection of shallow-depth adjustable stretcher bar points.

Jarvis Rail Limited also faced a charge under section 3(1) of HSWA. This resulted from its failure, as infrastructure maintenance contractor for the relevant section of the national rail network, to provide and implement suitable and sufficient training, standards, procedures and guidance for the installation, maintenance and inspection of adjustable stretcher bars. On 18 March the regulator confirmed that it would not proceed with the prosecution of Jarvis Rail Limited over the Potters Bar derailment. ORR concluded that, while there remained sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction of Jarvis, a prosecution was no longer in the public interest: ORR decides not to proceed with Jarvis Rail Potters Bar Prosecution

Adjustable stretcher bars keep the moveable section of track in a set of points at the correct width for the train's wheels.

The decision to prosecute was made in accordance with ORR's Enforcement Policy Statement, the Enforcement Management Model and the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

In the Crown Court the maximum penalty that may be imposed for an offence under section 3 of the HSWA is an unlimited fine.

Britain has one of the safest rail networks in Europe; for more information see the RSSB's annual safety performance report statistics at: http://www.rssb.co.uk/SPR/REPORTS/Pages/default.aspx
Nearly 1,500 times safer than travelling by motorcycle.
More than 400 times safer than cycling or walking.
More than 30 times safer than using a car.
RSSB's data shows that, on the basis of fatality risk per passenger kilometre, rail travel is:
Nearly 1,500 times safer than travelling by motorcycle.
More than 400 times safer than cycling or walking.
More than 30 times safer than using a car.


Railhub Archive ::: 2011-05-13 ORR-001





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