Grayrigg ‘guilty’ plea from Network Rail
Network Rail is facing an unlimited fine after pleading guilty to health and safety breaches leading up to the fatal Grayrigg train crash on February 23, 2007.
The Virgin Pendolino train derailed at 95mph after hitting faulty points. Stretcher bars holding the moveable rails a set distance apart when the points are operated failed, causing the train to derail.
A spokesperson for the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said: “The Office of Rail Regulation’s prosecution of Network Rail for breaches of health and safety law which caused a train to derail near Grayrigg in February 2007, killing one person and injuring 86 people, had its first hearing today at Lancaster Magistrates’ Court.
“Network Rail pleaded guilty to one charge under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The court has committed Network Rail to Preston Crown Court where a sentencing hearing will take place on 2 April 2012.
“Our thoughts are with the family of Mrs Margaret Masson and all those involved in this incident. ORR will do everything it can to ensure that the prosecution proceeds as quickly as possible.”
David Higgins, Network Rail chief executive, said: “The Grayrigg derailment in 2007 resulting in the tragic death of Mrs Masson was a terrible event. Within hours of the event it was clear that we were responsible, that the infrastructure was at fault, so it is right that we plead guilty. We again apologise to Mrs Masson’s family for the undoubted grief this has caused them.
“While there were faults at hand in 2007, we have been determined to recognise what we got wrong and put it right. An event like this affects everyone in the company, and especially those with responsibility for the track. Since the accident, much has changed in the way we plan and carry out maintenance work with new systems put in place to improve the quality and safety of our railway. We have one of the safest passenger railways in Europe and safety will always be our number one priority.”
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