- Press notices
Network Rail fined £4 million for Grayrigg train derailment
4 April 2012
Network Rail has been fined £4 million and ordered to pay costs of £118,052 for a breach of health and safety law which caused a train to derail near Grayrigg in 2007, causing the death of one passenger and injuring 86 people.
Today’s sentencing at Preston Crown Court marks the end of the rail regulator’s criminal prosecution against Network Rail. On 23 February 2007, the 17.15 Virgin Trains service from London Euston to Glasgow Central derailed on the West Coast Mainline near Grayrigg in Cumbria. 109 people were on board. Mrs Margaret Masson, a passenger travelling in the first carriage, was killed. Of the 86 people injured, 28 were seriously hurt.
At Lancaster Magistrates’ Court on 29 February 2012, Network Rail pleaded guilty to one charge under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. This results from the company’s failure to provide and implement suitable and sufficient standards, procedures, guidance, training, tools and resources for the inspection and maintenance of fixed stretcher-bar points.
Ian Prosser, Director of Railway Safety at ORR, said:
“The train derailment on the West Coast Mainline near Grayrigg in Cumbria was a devastating and preventable incident which has had long-term consequences for all involved. It tragically caused the death of one passenger, Mrs Margaret Masson, and shattered the lives of others. My thoughts are with Mrs Masson’s family and all those injured and affected by this horrific incident.
“Under Sir David Higgins’ leadership, Network Rail is focussed on driving safety measures and I welcome the company’s progress on implementing safety recommendations made after this incident. But the pace of carrying out improvements has, at times, been too slow and the rail regulator has had to repeatedly push the company to bring about change.
“Britain’s railways are safe and are one of the safest in Europe. But there is absolutely no room for complacency. Where failings are found those at fault will be held to account and the entire rail industry must continue to strive for improvements to ensure that public safety is never put at a similar risk again.”
Notes to editors
- The train derailment near Grayrigg was the subject of investigation by the British Transport Police, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) and ORR. ORR assumed primacy for the investigation in February 2009. In accordance with the Work Related Deaths Protocol, the rail regulator did not make a prosecution decision until after the coroner’s inquest concluded in November 2011 and after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had revisited its earlier decision not to prosecute for serious criminal offences.
- The coroner’s inquest into the death of Mrs Masson finished on 4 November 2011. The inquest concluded that the derailment was caused by the degradation of a set of points, which had been poorly maintained.
- At Lancaster Magistrates’ Court on 29 February 2012, Network Rail Infrastructure Limited pleaded guilty to one charge that between 1 December 2005 and 24 February 2007, at the West Coast Main Line between Scorton and Scout Green, it failed to conduct its undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment who may be affected thereby, including Margaret Masson, were not exposed to risks to their safety, in that it failed to provide and implement suitable and sufficient standards, procedures, guidance, training, tools and resources for the inspection and maintenance of fixed stretcher-bar points.
- The role of fixed stretcher-bars is to hold switch rails at a set distance apart so that when one switch rail is closed during operation of the points the other one opens to create and maintain a gap for the wheel flange to pass through. The derailment was caused by the degradation of a set of points which had been poorly maintained.
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020 7282 2094.