Network Rail has been fined £800,000 following serious injuries to a track worker who was carrying out rail maintenance work near Redhill in Surrey.
The incident happened in June 2014. An investigation by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), concluded that the work on the main line between Brighton and London was inadequately planned and managed, placing track maintenance workers in unnecessary danger. The ORR said the injuries to Network Rail manager Allen Evans were ‘multiple and life-changing’.
The fine was given today (Monday) by Guildford Crown Court in a prosecution brought by the ORR under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Network Rail pleaded guilty to two charges.
The Court heard that works were scheduled whilst fast, frequent trains continued to run, in an area with a narrow and steep embankment where the ability of track workers to retreat to a ‘position of safety’ when trains approached was materially compromised.
The Court also heard that the works could have been carried out at night, when other scheduled works would have ensured that no trains were running.
“This incident shows that although Britain’s railways are the safest in Europe, we can never be complacent,” said ORR principal inspector Tom Wake.
“In 2014, Network Rail’s planning of track maintenance work near Redhill fell below legal standards, placing workers in unnecessary danger and causing an employee to suffer life changing injuries.
“After the incident, Network Rail undertook a review of worker safety on the London to Brighton line, reducing track maintenance with trains running, introducing better warning systems and providing additional training for staff.
“We continue to monitor the company. Our inspectors will not hesitate to step in if needed, to protect the safety of workers or members of the public.”
Network Rail’s managing director for the South East, John Halsall, said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Evans and his family as the consequences of this accident continue to affect their lives. Safety is our absolute priority and it is clear that we fell short in this instance. We have made several changes to the way we work following this incident, including banning working while trains are running on this particular stretch of railway.
“Our staff and contractors play a vital role in keeping trains running in often difficult circumstances and we continue to strive to improve safety for them and for our passengers.”