March 23, 2018

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Network Rail is fined £733k

Network Rail Infrastructure Limited has been fined £733,000 for a freight train derailment in 2013.

The train partially derailed four miles south-west of Gloucester station on 15 October 2013. It continued to travel until it reached Gloucester West Junction, where a collision with the facing points caused an empty 5.9 tonne container to dislodge and fall down an embankment, causing extensive damage and throwing debris into the road below.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) found that while staff based at Network Rail’s Gloucester maintenance depot had identified an ongoing track defect, heightened by inadequate drainage at the site of the derailment, its short and medium term repairs were ineffective and the planned long term solution had not been implemented.

Fortunate

“Given Network Rail’s failure to remedy this ongoing fault, it was only a matter of time before a derailment took place, creating a genuine risk to passengers and the public,” said ORR’s Head of Network Rail Route Teams, Tom Wake.

“In this instance it was extremely fortunate that the loose container did not fall into the path of an on-coming train or cause injury to the public as it fell,” he added.

The ORR prosecuted Network Rail for breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act at Bristol Crown Court. Network Rail was also ordered to pay £70,000 costs.

Graham Hopkins, Network Rail’s safety, technical and engineering director, said the organisation had “come a long way since the derailment.”

“Since then we have developed world-leading technology to detect and manage the type of fault that caused this incident,” he said.

Tom Wake added: “The fine issued sends a powerful message to the industry that the ORR is committed to protecting the safety of Britain’s railways and will not hesitate to take enforcement action when and where it is necessary.”

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