The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has today started criminal proceedings against Network Rail for breaches of health and safety law which led to the deaths of two teenage girls at Elsenham station footpath crossing in December 2005.
The prosecution follows the conclusion of ORR’s reopened investigation into the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson, aged 14 and 13 years old, who were struck by a train at the Essex footpath crossing on 3 December 2005.
The investigation, which was originally closed in May 2007, was reopened by ORR in February 2011 when a further Network Rail document was brought to ORR’s attention by the girls’ families.
Network Rail own and operate Elsenham station footpath crossing.
The company faces two charges under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and one charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
These result from Network Rail’s failure to carry out proper assessments of the risks to the safety of members of the public using the footpath crossing or to have in place adequate arrangements to underpin these assessments.
Ian Prosser, Director of Railway Safety at ORR, said:
“After careful consideration and examination of Network Rail documents not previously seen by ORR, we have concluded that there is enough evidence, and that it is in the public interest, to bring criminal proceedings against Network Rail for serious breaches of health and safety law which led to the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson at Elsenham station footpath crossing in December 2005.
“Legal papers have been lodged at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court today.
“My thoughts are with the families of Olivia and Charlotte. ORR will do everything it can to ensure that the prosecution proceeds as quickly as possible.”
The first hearing is due to take place at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on 31 January 2012 at 10:00am.