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Network Rail pleads guilty over Grayrigg disaster

Rail infrastructure operator and owner Network Rail yesterday pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches over the 2007 Grayrigg train crash that killed one person and injured 86 people.

The firm made the plea at Lancaster Magistrates Court and a sentencing hearing will now take place on 2 April at Preston Crown Court, where it faces an unlimited fine.

The Office of Rail Regulation began criminal proceedings in January after the conclusion of its investigation into the derailment of the Virgin Pendolino passenger train, and the completion of the coroner’s inquest into the death of Margaret Masson, 84, who died in the crash.

Network Rail chief executive David Higgins said yesterday that it was “right” for the organisation to plead guilty.

“While there were faults at hand in 2007, we have been determined to recognise what we got wrong and put it right,” he said. “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. We have one of the safest passenger railways in Europe and safety will always be our number one priority.”

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