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EWSI fined for health and safety breach that led to death

English, Welsh and Scottish Railways International (EWSI) has been fined £180,000 for breaches of health and safety law which led to the death of Liam Gill, 13, and the serious injury of two 14-year old boys at Allerton rail depot in August 2009.

EWSI pleaded guilty to the charges.

Liam and his friends were trespassing on the site, which they gained access to through a gap in the boundary fence. The depot contained abandoned train wagons stored beneath a live 25,000 volt overhead power line. Liam climbed onto the roof of a train wagon, was electrocuted and died of his injuries. His two friends suffered severe burns.  

The ORR prosecuted EWSI for failing to adequately prevent trespass by not ensuring a fence to the depot was properly maintained. The judge found that the company failed to carry out a legally required assessment of the safety risks, failed to secure the wagons to prevent trespassers, and did not ensure appropriate security patrols were in place.

EWSI has also been ordered to pay costs of £59,554.

Ian Raxton, ORR’s principal inspector, said: “This was a devastating incident. Liam Gill’s tragic death and the serious injury of two teenage boys could have been prevented. My thoughts are with Liam’s family and all those involved in this incident.

“Liam’s death was caused by EWSI’s failure to manage safety risks at the site. The judge found that EWSI was aware that trespassing was taking place at the depot yet did not take sufficient steps to prevent unauthorised access to the site. It is also totally unacceptable to leave unused high voltage overhead cables switched on in a largely abandoned depot which is known to be accessed by trespassers. 

“However, there is no denying that Liam and his two friends should not have been trespassing on Allerton rail depot. Trespass on the railway poses serious safety risks.  The rail industry spends a great deal of time attempting to educate young people, as well as to ensure suitable security on the network.

“Despite this effort, more must be done. 53 trespass fatalities were reported in the last year alone and where there are known risks there is no excuse for companies to not take appropriate action against trespass.”

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