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Hatfield safety fears led to resignation

News

A SENIOR Balfour Beatty manager resigned two months before the fatal Hatfi d rail crash because he feared for track safety, the Old Bailey heard this week.

The company denies manslaughter, but former director of engineering at Balfour Beatty Rail Maintenance Kenneth Mee said he left after the board failed to address his safety concerns.

Four passengers were killed when an intercity express de railed between Welham Green and Hatfi eld on 17 October 2000, after a rail shattered beneath the train.

Balfour Beatty was contracted to maintain the East Coast Main Line, which included the section of track that failed. But Mee said increased train movements left less and less time for work to be carried out.

He also told the court that competition from other rail contractors and London Underground caused recruitment problems.

Risks were at unacceptably high levels, he added. He resigned in July 2000.

But under cross-examination, the court heard that he made no mention of these fears in his resignation letter.

Also this week, former Railtrack chairman Sir Philip Beck said the concentration of track knowledge within contractors after privatisation, rather than within Railtrack, the track owner, placed his company in an 'invidious position'.

The jury was also taken to visit the site of the crash on Sunday morning.

The trial resumes on Monday.

Infoplus Visit www. nceplus. co. uk for daily reports.

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