Network Rail fined £3m over Potters Bar train crash

Network Rail, as the successor to Railtrack, has been fined £3 million and ordered to pay costs of £150,000 following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for a health and safety offence which caused the Potters Bar derailment.

The fine brings to a close ORR’s criminal proceedings against Network Rail, which began in November 2010. These proceedings arose from the derailment of a West Anglia Great Northern train at Potters Bar station in Hertfordshire on 10 May 2002.

Seven people were killed, with many more seriously injured. Railtrack was responsible for running the rail infrastructure when the accident occurred.

At St Albans Crown Court today Network Rail was sentenced after being charged under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA).

It failed, as infrastructure controller for the national rail network, to provide and implement suitable and sufficient standards, procedures and guidance for the installation, maintenance and inspection of adjustable stretcher bars. Network Rail pleaded guilty to the charge.

Director of Rail Safety at ORR, Ian Prosser, said:

“Today marks the end of a long process in which we have sought to gain a sense of justice for the families of the victims of the Potters Bar derailment.

“It is welcome that Network Rail, as the successor to Railtrack, pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches demonstrating that, under its new management it is now an organisation willing to take responsibility and learn from past mistakes.

“Safety on Britain’s railways has improved significantly over the last nine years and, today, statistics show we have one of the safest railways in Europe.

“But there can be no room for complacency. The safety culture of the rail industry can be significantly strengthened. As long as the regulator continues to have to step in to enforce improvements or bring prosecutions where things have gone wrong – as we have done many times this year – then, despite progress, it is clear that the industry has significant work still to do.”

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