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Network Rail and Jarvis Rail face prosecution over Potters Bar rail crash

Posted by Dailymail on 2010-11-10 07:21:12 | Views: 259 |

Network Rail and Jarvis Rail face prosecution over Potters Bar rail crash


By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:12 PM on 10th November 2010

Network Rail (NR) and maintenance company Jarvis Rail are to be prosecuted over the 2002 Potters Bar rail crash in which seven people died, it was announced this morning.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said it had started criminal proceedings against the two companies 'for breaches of health and safety law which caused the Potters Bar derailment'.
If found guilty both companies could face unlimited fines.

The prosecution follows the conclusion of the inquest this year into the deaths at Potters Bar in Hertfordshire where the jury returned seven verdicts of accidental death.

The Potters Bar crash in 2002 killed six passenger and one pedestrian. The train was travelling at 100mph when it was derailed

The Potters Bar crash in 2002 killed six passenger and one pedestrian. The train was travelling at 100mph when it was derailed

An initial Health and Safety Executive report into the crash said poor maintenance led to the points failure which caused the derailment on May 10, 2002

An initial Health and Safety Executive report into the crash said poor maintenance led to the points failure which caused the derailment on May 10, 2002

ORR rail safety director Ian Prosser said today: 'I have decided there is enough evidence, and it is in the public interest, to prosecute Network Rail and Jarvis Rail for serious health and safety breaches.'

The case is due to be heard, initially, at Watford Magistrates Court in Hertfordshire on January 7 2011.

The Potters Bar crash killed six people aboard a London to King's Lynn train, with a pedestrian also being killed.

A Health and Safety Executive report into the crash said poor maintenance led to the points failure which caused the derailment on May 10 2002.

In 2005, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that, after consideration of the evidence, it had advised the British Transport Police there was no realistic prospect of conviction for an offence of gross negligence manslaughter against any individual or corporation arising from the Potters Bar incident.

And the ORR said today it had been informed last month by the CPS that there were no grounds for the CPS to reconsider its 2005 decision.

At the time of the crash the company in charge of rail infrastructure was Railtrack whose responsibilities were taken over by NR in October 2002.

Jarvis Rail, the maintenance contractor for the Potters Bar area at the time of the crash, went into administration in March 2010.

NR is facing a charge under a section of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.

The ORR said this was in regard to NR's 'failure, as infrastructure controller for the national rail network, to provide and implement suitable and sufficient training, standards, procedures and guidance for the installation, maintenance and inspection of adjustable stretcher bars (part of the points)'.

Jarvis Rail also faces a charge under the same section of the Act for the same alleged failings in its role as 'infrastructure maintenance contractor' for the relevant section of the track.

ORR rail safety director Ian Prosser said: 'I have decided there is enough evidence, and it is in the public interest, to prosecute Network Rail and Jarvis Rail for serious health and safety breaches.'

ORR rail safety director Ian Prosser said: 'I have decided there is enough evidence, and it is in the public interest, to prosecute Network Rail and Jarvis Rail for serious health and safety breaches.'

Perdita Kark, daughter of Austen Kark, who was killed in the crash, said: 'It is quite right and proper. The only thing that bothers me is why it has taken nearly nine years to get to this point.'

Perdita Kark, daughter of Austen Kark, who was killed in the crash, said: 'It is quite right and proper. The only thing that bothers me is why it has taken nearly nine years to get to this point.'

Mr Prosser said: 'The conclusion of the recent inquest into the derailment at Potters Bar has allowed the (rail) regulator to make a decision on whether any enforcement action should be brought in relation to the incident.

'For the sake of the families involved, we will do all we can to ensure the prosecutions proceed as quickly as possible.

'The railway today is as safe as it has ever been, but there can be no room for complacency.

'Where failings are found those at fault must be held to account - and the entire rail industry must continue to strive for improvements to ensure that public safety is never put at a similar risk again.'

The HSE report into the accident had listed a catalogue of faults which led to the derailment. Loose nuts on the points had caused the crash and earlier inspections had not spotted defects in the points.

'For the sake of the families involved, we will do all we can to ensure the prosecutions proceed as quickly as possible,' said Mr Prosser. 'The railway today is as safe as it has ever been, but there can be no room for complacency.'

'For the sake of the families involved, we will do all we can to ensure the prosecutions proceed as quickly as possible,' said Mr Prosser. 'The railway today is as safe as it has ever been, but there can be no room for complacency.'

Network Rail said: 'Today the railways are safer than they have ever been, but our task remains to build on that record and always to learn any lessons we can.'

Network Rail said: 'Today the railways are safer than they have ever been, but our task remains to build on that record and always to learn any lessons we can.'

Perdita Kark, daughter of Austen Kark, who was killed in the crash, said: 'It is quite right and proper. The only thing that bothers me is why it has taken nearly nine years to get to this point.

'My feeling is that it should have happened far sooner following the crash. We shouldn't have to have fought and fought for so long to get an inquest.

'It's absolutely right and proper. I hope they appreciate why they are being prosecuted and learn from their mistakes.'

Network Rail said today: 'The railway today is almost unrecognisable since the days of Railtrack and the Potters Bar tragedy of 2002.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, welcomed the findings and said it was 'better late than never'.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, welcomed the findings and said it was 'better late than never'.

'Private contractors are no longer in control of the day-to-day maintenance of the nation's rail infrastructure since NR took this entire operation, involving some 15,000 people, in-house in 2004.

'All of the recommendations made by both the industry's own formal inquiry and the Health and Safety investigation have been carried out.

'Today the railways are safer than they have ever been, but our task remains to build on that record and always to learn any lessons we can to make it ever safer for passengers and those who work on the railway.'

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: 'RMT has campaigned for criminal proceedings against those responsible for the avoidable and tragic disaster at Potters Bar for eight long years and we welcome today's news as better late than never.

'We will also be watching closely for any attempts by the directors of Jarvis Rail to avoid being called to account for their actions following the collapse of the company.

'This prosecution also sends out a clear warning to those currently responsible for rail maintenance, and the Government, in this climate of cuts to transport budgets that anyone caught playing fast and loose with rail safety can expect to feel the full force of the law.'

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