- Press notices
Rail regulator prosecutes Network Rail for Elsenham double fatality
25 November 2011
The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has today started criminal proceedings against Network Rail for breaches of health and safety law which led to the deaths of two teenage girls at Elsenham station footpath crossing in December 2005.
The prosecution follows the conclusion of ORR's reopened investigation into the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson, aged 14 and 13 years old, who were struck by a train at the Essex footpath crossing on 3 December 2005. The investigation, which was originally closed in May 2007, was reopened by ORR in February 2011 when a further Network Rail document was brought to ORR’s attention.
Network Rail own and operate Elsenham station footpath crossing. The company faces two charges under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and one charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. These result from Network Rail's failure to carry out proper assessments of the risks to the safety of members of the public using the footpath crossing or to have in place adequate arrangements to underpin these assessments.
Ian Prosser, Director of Railway Safety at ORR, said:
"After careful consideration and examination of Network Rail documents not previously seen by ORR, we have concluded that there is enough evidence, and that it is in the public interest, to bring criminal proceedings against Network Rail for serious breaches of health and safety law which led to the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson at Elsenham station footpath crossing in December 2005. Legal papers have been lodged at Basildon Magistrates' Court today.
"My thoughts are with the families of Olivia and Charlotte. ORR will do everything it can to ensure that the prosecution proceeds as quickly as possible."
The first hearing is due to take place at Basildon Magistrates' Court on 31 January 2012.
Notes to editors
- The Office of Rail Regulation is the independent safety and economic regulator for Britain’s railways.
- On 3 December 2005 Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson used Elsenham station footpath crossing to reach the station platform. The station's footpath crossing was fitted with warning lights and yodel alarms. A London Liverpool Street to Cambridge train passed over the crossing with the red lights and yodel sounding - a warning for foot passengers not to cross the footpath crossing. After the train passed, the lights remained on and the alarms continued to sound as another train, travelling to Stansted Airport, was going to pass through the station. Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson opened the wicket gates and walked onto the crossing. They were both struck by the Stansted Airport train and fatally injured.
- ORR investigated the incident during 2005 and 2006. The coroner's inquest, held in January 2007, returned a verdict of accidental death, and ORR closed its investigation in May 2007. However, in January 2011 further Network Rail documents were brought to ORR’s attention and ORR reopened the investigation to consider their impact.
- Network Rail faces two charges under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (regulation 3(1)(b) and regulation 5(1)) and one charge under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
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