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Network Rail and Jarvis face Potters Bar trial

Rail chiefs are to appear in court accused of health and safety failings at the 2002 Potters Bar train crash.

Network Rail (NR) and maintenance firm Jarvis Rail face criminal proceedings brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) over the condition of train tracks at the disaster site.

Six passengers and a pedestrian were killed when a West Anglia Great Northern express train travelling from London to King’s Lynn derailed at a faulty set of points in Hertfordshire on 10 May 2002.

The ORR launched proceedings over alleged breaches of health and safety law following the conclusion of an inquest into the disaster last year.

A magistrate in Watford will open court proceedings today but could decide to refer the case to crown court.

While the maintenance company involved was Jarvis, the overall responsibility for the track rested with Railtrack whose functions were taken over by NR in October 2002.

Both companies face accusations of failings surrounding the installation, maintenance and inspection of adjustable stretcher bars, which keep the moveable section of a track at the correct width for train wheels.

Six passengers - Austen Kark, Emma Knights, Jonael Schickler, Alexander Ogunwusi, Chia Hsin Lin and Chia Chin Wu - were killed in the crash in Hertfordshire on 10 May 2002.

The seventh victim, Agnes Quinlivan, who was walking nearby, died after she was hit by debris.

More than 70 people were also injured when the 12.45pm King’s Cross to King’s Lynn train crashed as it reached the station of Potters Bar, where it was not due to stop, at around 1pm.

Last year a coroner promised to file a report expressing his concern about the risk of future deaths in similar circumstances.

The inquest concluded that a points failure was to blame.

The Crown Prosecution Service initially ruled out launching criminal proceedings, in 2005.

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