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'Incompetence' fatally delayed Hatfield track repairs


FAILURE TO replace damaged rail at the Hatfi eld crash site refl ected a 'sorry tale of tardiness and incompetence', the Old Bailey heard this week.

Replacement rail was sitting beside the track as a high-speed train derailed in October 2000, killing four passengers.

Network Rail, Balfour Beatty and fi e men face charges (see box).

Railtrack head of projects Jonathan Meecock confirmed the chronology of events from January 2000, when track was fi earmarked as requiring priority re-railing. Work on the critical section, designated as Welham Green, was scheduled to follow re-railing further north at Hatfield.

But faults with trains delivering rail to Hatfield caused two possessions to be cancelled.

Renewals contractor Jarvis booked the wrong night in March, while Railtrack had indicated the wrong line a month earlier.

The wrong type of train was sent in April, meaning that the work north of Hatfield was completed in late spring.

The summer timetable was in force as the Welham Green work was contemplated, which cut the length of possessions available to 4.5 hours. Jarvis said this was not enough and a November date was proposed.

ailtrack engineer Gary Munns wrote that waiting until November 'exposes us to a big risk of gauge corner cracking'.

alfour Beatty barrister Ronald Thwaites QC said:'Here is recognition of the risk and unfortunately he was the prophet of doom whose dismal expectations came to fruition on 17 October.' The case continues.

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