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Network Rail faces prosecution over Grayrigg train crash

Rail regulator announces criminal proceedings over derailment in Cumbria, which left one person dead and 86 injured in 2007

Network Rail is to be prosecuted for the Grayrigg train crash that killed one passenger and injured 86.

The rail regulator has announced it has started criminal proceedings over the 2007 derailment of a Virgin train in Cumbria, in which an 84-year-old woman died and 28 people were seriously injured.

The office of rail regulation’s (ORR) decision comes at the conclusion of its own investigation of the incident, and two months after the jury at a coroner’s inquest found that badly maintained points caused the death of Margaret Masson after the Pendolino train derailed.

The ORR is bringing charges under health and safety law, accusing Network Rail of “failure to provide and implement suitable and sufficient standards, procedures, guidance, training, tools and resources for the inspection and maintenance of fixed stretcher-bar points”.

The Virgin train service from London Euston to Glasgow Central derailed on the West Coast Mainline near Grayrigg on 23 February 2007, with 109 people on board. All eight carriages were thrown down an embankment as the train came off the rails at 95mph.

Ian Prosser, director of railway safety at ORR, said: “ORR has conducted a thorough investigation into whether criminal proceedings should be brought in relation to the train derailment near Grayrigg on 23 February 2007, which caused the death of Mrs Masson and injured 86 people.

“Following the coroner’s inquest into the death of Mrs Masson, I have concluded that there is enough evidence, and that it is in the public interest, to bring criminal proceedings against Network Rail for a serious breach of health and safety law which led to the train derailment.

“My thoughts are with the family of Mrs Masson and those injured in this incident. ORR will do everything it can to ensure that the prosecution proceeds as quickly as possible.

Last year Network Rail was fined £3m for its failings in the Potters Bar crash which killed seven people in 2002 because of faulty points. It also currently faces prosecution over the deaths of two girls at the Elsenham level crossing in 2005.

Robin Gisby, managing director of network operations at Network Rail, said: “The Grayrigg derailment in 2007 resulting in the tragic death of Mrs Margaret Masson was a terrible event. Network Rail has not hidden from its responsibilities – the company accepted quickly that it was a fault with the infrastructure that caused the accident. We again apologise to Mrs Masson’s family.

“Since the derailment Network Rail has worked closely with the authorities, conducted comprehensive and detailed investigations and made substantial changes to its maintenance regime. Today there is no safer form of travel than rail and it is important that the rail industry seeks ways to make it safer still.”

The first hearing is due to take place at Lancaster magistrates court on 24 February. If the case is committed to the crown court, an unlimited fine could be imposed on Network Rail. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds