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2012-03-15 ORR-001
Office of Rail Regulation

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Network Rail fined £1m for Elsenham double fatality


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Office of Rail Regulation



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Office of Rail Regulation

Network Rail fined £1m for Elsenham double fatality
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date
15 Mar 2012
source Office of Rail Regulation
type Press release



ORR/03/12

Network Rail has been fined £1 million and ordered to pay costs of £60,015 following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for breaches of health and safety law which led to the deaths of two teenage girls at Elsenham station footpath crossing in December 2005.

Today’s sentencing at Chelmsford Crown Court marks the end of the rail regulator’s criminal prosecution against Network Rail for the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson, aged 14 and 13 years old, who were struck by a train at the Essex footpath crossing on 3 December 2005.

Network Rail pleaded guilty to two charges under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and to one charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. These result from Network Rail's failure to carry out proper assessments of the risks to the safety of members of the public using the footpath crossing or to have in place adequate arrangements to underpin these assessments.

ORR’s director of railway safety, Ian Prosser, said:

“Today’s sentencing at Chelmsford Crown Court marks the end of the rail regulator’s criminal prosecution against Network Rail after Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson, aged 14 and 13 years old, died when they were struck by a train at Elsenham footpath crossing on 3 December 2005.
“Network Rail failed Olivia and Charlie and their families by not addressing the safety risks at the crossing, and the consequences were devastating. It is right that the company has apologised and pleaded guilty to breaches of health and safety law that led to their tragic and preventable deaths.
“Safety on Britain’s railways is my chief priority – and while Britain’s railways are safe, and safety is constantly improving, it is vital that the whole rail industry continues to work together to ensure that incidents such as this do not happen again.
“I support Sir David Higgins’ moves since his arrival to enhance the safety culture at Network Rail, and his focus on driving safety improvements at level crossings. But, as I have repeatedly said, if the regulator continues to have to step in to enforce safety improvements, or bring prosecutions where things have gone wrong – as we have already done this year – then, despite progress, it is clear that Network Rail has significant work still to do.
“Today I would like to pay tribute to Olivia and Charlie’s families and to the inspectors at ORR for their dedication and perseverance over the years. I am determined that the whole rail industry focuses on pushing forward safety improvements.”
Notes to editors
The Office of Rail Regulation is the independent safety and economic regulator for Britain’s railways.
On 3 December 2005, Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson used Elsenham station footpath crossing to reach the station platform. The station's footpath crossing was fitted with warning lights and yodel alarms. A London Liverpool Street to Cambridge train passed over the crossing with the red lights and yodel sounding - a warning for foot passengers not to cross the footpath crossing. After the train passed, the lights remained on and the alarms continued to sound as another train, travelling to Stansted Airport, was going to pass through the station. Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson opened the wicket gates and walked onto the crossing. They were both struck by the Stansted Airport train and fatally injured.
ORR investigated the incident during 2005 and 2006. The coroner's inquest, held in January 2007, returned a verdict of accidental death, and ORR closed its investigation in May 2007. However, in January 2011 further Network Rail documents were brought to ORR’s attention and ORR reopened the investigation to consider their impact.
On 25 November 2011, ORR started criminal proceedings against Network Rail for breaches of health and safety law which led to the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson at Elsenham station footpath crossing. On 31 January 2012, at Basildon Magistrates’ Court, Network Rail pleaded guilty to two charges under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Network Rail own and operate Elsenham station footpath crossing.

ORR media relations
020 7282 2094


Railhub Archive ::: 2012-03-15 ORR-001





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