Network Rail face fines for Health and Safety - legacy Railtrack 23 Feb 2011

On 10 May 2002, a train crash at Potters Bar station resulted in seven fatalities. The inquest into the causes of the accident during the summer of 2010 concluded that poor maintenance and inspections to a set of points caused the accident. As a result, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) launched criminal proceedings under s.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The criminal case was heard at Watford Magistrates’ court and Network Rail convicted on 21 February 2011. As the offence was considered too serious and fines limited in the Magistrates’ court, sentencing will take place next month at St Albans Crown Court.

At the time of the incident, overall responsibility for the track lay with Railtrack. Network Rail subsequently acquired Railtrack on 03 October 2002, who were in administration, along with its responsibilities and liabilities. ORR then proceeded with criminal charges under health and safety legislation against Network Rail.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail stated that; “we have indicated a guilty plea today as Network Rail took on all of Railtrack’s obligations, responsibilities and liabilities when it took over the company”. It is uncertain what the fine will be against Network Rail. There has been comment suggesting that the fine will not be as high as it could have been because the fine would ultimately be paid by the taxpayer and the fact that it was actually another entity that committed the offence.

This article first appeared in Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service, and has been reproduced with their permission. For more information about Law-Now, please go to www.law-now.com