Network Rail has been fined £4M and ordered to pay costs of £118,052 for health and safety failings that led to a train derailment near Grayrigg, Cumbria in 2007, that caused the death of one passenger and injured 86 people.
The sentence was imposed at a hearing at Preston Crown Court on 2 April, after Network Rail pleaded guilty to one charge under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at Lancaster Magistrates’ Court in February. The criminal case followed shortly after an inquest found Network Rail responsible for the accident.
The inquest found that the company had failed to provide and implement suitable and sufficient standards, procedures, guidance, training, tools and resources for the inspection and maintenance of fixed stretcher-bar points.
Office of Rail Regulation director of railway safety Ian Prosser said that the ruling showed that there was no place for complacency and urged Network Rail to redouble its efforts in implementing recommendations made following the crash. As of November Network Rail had so far failed to implement five key recommendations arising from the official investigation into the 2007 crash.
“I welcome the company’s progress on implementing safety recommendations made after this incident. But the pace of carrying out improvements has, at times, been too slow and the rail regulator has had to repeatedly push the company to bring about change,” he said. “There is absolutely no room for complacency. Where failings are found those at fault will be held to account and the entire rail industry must continue to strive for improvements to ensure that public safety is never put at a similar risk again.”
Network Rail chief executive David Higgins said his firm had learnt from the accident and that it was “determined” to recognise what it got wrong and put it right.
“An event like this affects everyone in the company, and especially those with responsibility for the track. Since the accident, much has changed in the way we plan and carry out maintenance work with new systems put in place to improve the quality and safety of our railway which is why we now have one of the safest passenger railways in Europe,” he said.