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Network Rail fined for crossing death

Network Rail was this week ordered to pay more than £110,000 after pleading guilty to health and safety breaches which led to a man’s death at a level crossing.

The rail infrastructure company was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £36,791 by Newcastle Crown Court, after admitting it failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure safety.

In January 2008, Christopher Walton was struck and killed by a freight train at West Lodge level crossing, Blenkinsopp Estate, Haltwhistle, in the north east of England.

Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) investigators said that Network Rail should have reduced the risks of using the crossing, including instructing pedestrians to telephone the signaller before crossing the railway tracks.

A risk assessment in 2005 had identified inadequate sighting distances at the crossing but Network Rail failed to act on the findings.

A month after Walton was killed the ORR served an improvement notice on Network Rail, requiring it to erect signs instructing all users to telephone for permission to cross.

Network Rail said that this, and other safety improvements, had been implemented.

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