The 13 December 2018 was not a good day for Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of Great Britain’s railway network.
The company were convicted of an offence under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and section 33 (1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, after a 14 day trial back in May, although the jury failed to reach a verdict on a second charge under section 2(1)(a) and 33(1)(a) of the 1974 Act.
Passing sentence today HHJ Statman fined Network Rail £200,000 and charged costs to the sum of £86,000.
The event that led to the subsequent investigation surrounded the then signaller Mr Douglas Caddell, aged 65, who suffered serious injury after being struck by a car whilst attempting to close the level crossing gate at, East Farleigh Station in Kent, back in April 2015.
The subsequent investigation undertaken by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) identified that Network Rail’s risk assessment was inadequate and failed to provide for the ‘foreseeable risk’ of a driver failing to recognise that the gates were being closed. As a result Network Rail had failed to protect its employees.
HM Chief Inspector of Railways (Ian Prosser) is quoted as saying:
“Mr Caddell suffered life-changing injuries in this incident and the sentence indicates just how seriously the offence is quite rightly viewed.”
“We are absolutely committed to protecting the health and safety of passengers and railway staff and will not hesitate to take enforcement action or to prosecute when necessary.”
“Network Rail has introduced safety measures at East Farleigh and we would expect to see proper risk assessments made at similar level crossings up and down the country and necessary safety measures taken.”