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Network Rail failures blamed for Grayrigg crash

Network Rail’s failure to correctly set up points and carry out a track inspection led to the Grayrigg rail crash on 23 February last year, according to a Rail Accident Investigation Branch report published today.

The findings conclude that the immediate cause of the derailment, which caused the death of passenger Margaret Masson, was the deterioration of Lambrigg 2B points through a combination of failures of three stretcher bars, the lock stretcher bar, and their fastenings.

It went on to say three factors – the mechanical failure of a bolted joint, the incorrect set up of the points and a track inspection that was missed five days before the accident – were to blame for causing these unsafe conditions.

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon said he would look into the most appropriate response to the report, with regard to the Grayrigg accident as well as the derailment at Potters Bar (which caused seven deaths in 2002). The inquest for the accident at Potters Bar was adjourned in the same month as the Grayrigg accident pending the outcome of investigations into the latter.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) responded to today’s findings by renewing its call for a joint public inquiry into both rail crashes as well as a reversal of maintenance spending cuts.

“It is now abundantly clear that systematic management failings, lack of resources and the fragmented ‘contract culture’ still prevalent on the railway all played their part in the complex of causes of the Grayrigg derailment,” said RMT general secretary Bob Crow.

Office of Rail Regulation director of rail safety Ian Prosser said: "We welcome the publication of the RAIB report, and will carefully consider the report and its recommendations. As the independent health and safety regulator for the rail network, we will ensure that appropriate action is taken forward in a timely way by the industry and ourselves."

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