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August 10, 2004

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Jarvis to pay GBP 400,000 for train derailment

A SUBSIDIARY of engineering firm Jarvis was fined £400,000 on 5 July at Sheffield Crown Court after a goods train was derailed by a piece of track left after emergency repair work.

Jarvis Facilities Ltd of Hertford pleaded guilty to a breach of s3(1) of HSWA 1974 in failing to ensure the safety of non-employees. In addition to the fine it was ordered to pay the HSE’s full costs of £28,061.

The court was told that on 10 November 2002, a locomotive and two wagons of an empty coal train derailed over a set of points at Aldwarke Junction, near Rotherham. No one was injured and the train stayed upright. Steve Bates, the HSE inspector who investigated the derailment, told SHP that a Jarvis engineer had been making repairs to a section of the track to stop a crack developing. After notifying the signaller that he had finished this work, the signaller sent the train on the Roundwood Cord – a single freight line bypassing Doncaster.

“The set of points should have been clipped and scotched to hold the points in place, so that the signaller could not have selected the bypass route,” Bates said. “A piece of rail about eight foot long had been taken out of the track, leading to the train’s derailment at the points.”

The company said in mitigation that the derailment took place on a single track, so that a crash between two trains could not have been a possibility. It said there had been a 25mph speed limit on the line. The company no longer does rail maintenance work, which used to comprise 40 per cent of its business, and has financial difficulties.

Judge Robert Moore said: “The fact that nobody was injured, and there was no disaster involving a passenger train, is a matter of public good fortune. As every child with a train set knows, if you let a train run where there is no track, there will be a crash.”

Inspector Bates added: “The case demonstrates a management failure at Jarvis. The derailment was not the fault of individuals.”


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