- Press notices
Southeastern fined £65,000 after train in Sussex ran ‘out of control’
6 July 2012
The train operating company Southeastern has today been fined £65,000 and ordered to pay costs of £22,589.50, following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for breaches of health and safety law which led to a train running out of control for over three miles in East Sussex, in November 2010.
On 8 November 2010, the 06:45 London Charing Cross to Hastings service was approaching, and due to stop at, Stonegate station, when the train’s braking system failed. Instead of making its scheduled stop at Stonegate, the train passed the station at approximately 50 mph, and continued, with its emergency brake continuously applied, through a level crossing before finally coming to a stop 3.22 miles from where the brakes were first applied.
Today’s sentencing at Maidstone Crown Court follows an ORR investigation into the incident, which found that Southeastern had failed to provide an effective system of work to reliably ensure the availability of sand on its class 375 trains for use as part of the braking system. In order to improve braking performance sand is deposited onto the track when the brakes are used, increasing friction and reducing braking distance. ORR’s investigation also found that, in addition to the runaway train, four more Southeastern trains showed evidence of not having sand supplies refilled.
Ian Prosser, Director of Railway Safety at ORR, said:
“Train operators have an important duty to ensure that their workers and members of the public are not exposed to unnecessary safety risks.
“In this case, Southeastern, through poor planning and management, failed to ensure their trains were safe for use on the rail network. This is clearly unacceptable, and led to the potentially catastrophic incident in East Sussex where a train ran out of control for over three miles.
“We welcome steps taken by Southeastern to improve its safety management since this incident. ORR is pressing Southeastern, and the whole rail sector, to develop and maintain systems which identify potential dangers so that they can be addressed before catastrophic risks become reality.”
Notes to editors:
- 1. Southeastern pleaded guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 on 14 May 2012 at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court.
- A sanding system normally consists of a ‘sand hopper’, a compressed air supply and a hose to direct the sand in front of the wheels. Class 375 trains are fitted with a sanding system which draws sand from a ‘hopper’ into a hose directed in front of the wheels on the third axle from the driving end of the train. There is one hopper on each side. They have to be separately filled with sand.