- Press notices
Companies fined £300,000 after London Underground train ran out of control
28 February 2013
Three companies today were fined a total of £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £44,074 following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for breaches of health and safety law which led to an engineering train running out of control for over four miles on the London Underground Northern Line in August 2010.
Today’s sentencing at the Old Bailey marks the end of the rail regulator’s criminal prosecution against London Underground Limited, Tube Lines Limited and Schweerbau GMBH. At approximately 6:45am on Friday 13 August 2010, a broken down engineering train was being towed uphill towards Highgate tube station when a connection failed and the train broke free. The train ran downhill out of control, southbound on the London Underground Northern Line for 16 minutes. The train eventually came to an unaided stop caused by an uphill incline on the approach to Warren Street station, by which time it had covered over four miles, passed through seven populated stations and reached speeds of up to 30mph.
London Underground Limited, Tube lines Limited and Schweerbau GMBH all pleaded guilty to charges under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Schweerbau GMBH also pleaded guilty to an additional charge under section 2 of the Act. These charges result from the companies' failure to effectively co-ordinate, plan and work together in transporting the damaged train, as procedures were not followed. Significantly, lessons had also not been learned from previous failings made during a rescue of the same train less than one month earlier on 17 July 2010.
Ian Prosser, ORR’s Director of Safety, said:
"London Underground is one of the safest railways in the world and normally has a very good safety record. The companies responsible for running and maintaining services have an important duty to ensure that their workers and members of the public are not exposed to unnecessary safety risks.
"However, in this case, London Underground, Tube Lines and Schweerbau, through inadequate management and planning, failed to ensure the safe recovery of an engineering train. This is clearly unacceptable, and led to a potentially catastrophic incident on the Northern Line where the train careered out of control for over four miles. It was only the professionalism of control room staff taking decisive action which prevented a collision between trains, and averted a much more serious outcome.
"We welcome the steps taken by the companies to improve safety management on London Underground since this incident. The regulator will continue to closely monitor the actions of all parties involved, and will not hesitate to step in should further safety failings be found."
Notes to editors
- The Office of Rail Regulation is the independent safety and economic regulator for Great Britain’s railways.
- London Underground Limited and Tube Lines Limited pleaded guilty to the charges relating to these failings at London City Magistrates Court, on 29 November 2012, while Schweerbau GMBH pleaded guilty to the charges at the Old Bailey on 28 February 2013.
- Financial penalties imposed by the court:
- London Underground Limited has been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,691
- Tube Lines Limited has been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,691
- Schweerbau GMBH has been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,691