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Network Rail fined £3M over Potters Bar crash

Rail infrastructure company Network Rail (NR) was fined £3M today for safety failings over the 2002 Potters Bar train crash which claimed seven lives.

NR had admitted breaching health and safety regulations in the May 2002 Hertfordshire disaster.

Its predecessor company Railtrack was the infrastructure company in charge at the time of the crash but NR has shouldered the responsibility.

The prosecution, at St Albans Crown Court under the Health and Safety at Work Act, was brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).

The now in-administration maintenance company Jarvis, which was responsible for the section of track at Potters Bar, also faced prosecution but the ORR decided in March not to proceed as the prosecution was “no longer in the public interest”.

The sentence against NR was imposed by Judge Bright QC after Nicholas Hilliard QC, appearing for ORR, had said the poor state of a set of points on the track at Potters Bar had made the crash “inevitable”.

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

They were on a West Anglia Great Northern express train travelling from London to King’s Lynn in Norfolk which derailed at a faulty set of points just outside Potters Bar station.

The seventh victim was Agnes Quinlivan, 80, who was walking nearby and died after she was hit by debris.

All those killed were in the train’s fourth carriage which became airborne after derailing and ended up getting wedged under the canopy of Potters Bar station.

NR is a not-for-dividend organisation, with no shareholders and with its debt guaranteed by the Government.

This means that any fine imposed on the company effectively comes out of the public purse.

NR admitted failings over the installation, maintenance and inspection of adjustable stretcher bars which keep the moveable section of a track at the correct width for train wheels.

The ORR brought the prosecution after the jury at the long-awaited inquest into the crash in July last year found that unsafe points caused the accident.

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