Railway safety and crime

15.05.18

Firm slapped with £40,000 fine after child nearly fell through rotten toilet floor

South Devon Railway (SDR) Trust has been slapped with a £40,000 fine following a potentially life-threatening incident which saw a child nearly fall through the missing door of a train toilet.

In a hearing at Newton Abbot Magistrates’ Court, the organisation admitted that it put passengers at risk by failing to properly bar the entry to a toilet cubicle which was missing its floor.

As a result of the oversight, Anna Patch’s three-year-old son almost suffered a serious injury when he fell through the missing floor and was snatched back to safety by his mother. His feet were just inches away from the rotating wheel below.

The accident took place on 22 June last year when the family had been out enjoying a ride on the heritage steam railway between Buckfastleigh and Totnes in Devon.  

Ian Prosser, HM chief inspector of railways, who is part of RTM’s Editorial Board, argued that SDR took an “exceptionally casual approach” to ensuring the safety of passengers and created a “genuine and unacceptable risk to the public.”

“In this instance it is only by good fortune and the swift action of the boy’s mother that this incident was not a fatality,” continued Prosser.

“The fine issued today sends out a powerful message to the heritage sector that the safety of passengers is absolutely paramount, and that thorough risk assessment and monitoring must be carried out.”

In an investigation, regulator ORR discovered that the entire cubicle floor had been missing since 2 April. The company pinned an ‘out of use’ sign to the door and tried to keep it shut with two screws, but these eventually broke along with the door post.

There were no ongoing checks to ensure the door was still secure and staff working on the train were unaware of the missing floor.

The carriage was in need of structural repair and only remained in service once the issue was discovered due to the busy Easter period, during which the company would normally run nine trips per day. It continued using the carriage for three days after the incident.

The ORR also found that SDR had an inadequate Safety Management System n place, which was around 10 years out of date and unfit for purpose.

In a statement, the organisation said it “fully acknowledges the shortcomings which occurred” and entered a guilty plea to the ORR’s charges.

 “The SDR accepts and regrets that improvement was needed at the time of the incident – hopefully it can be seen that the Trust has reacted appropriately and seriously in the circumstances,” it added.

“Whilst the fine we received today is a significant one, we have been making contingency plans for it and also have a helpful period of time in which to pay.”

Top image: Stephen Craven

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

HS2 progress report released

24/01/2020HS2 progress report released

Today (Jan 24) the latest update on the rail project High Speed Two was released by the National Audit Service. The report says The Departme... more >
Transform a Pacer competition winners announced

23/01/2020Transform a Pacer competition winners announced

Aired on television last night (Jan 22) the lucky winners of the Transform a Pacer competition were announced. The competition means that after 3... more >
Innovation and Safety - David Clarke, RIA

23/01/2020Innovation and Safety - David Clarke, RIA

Source: RTM Dec 19/Jan 20 David Clarke, Technical Director, Railway Industry Association talks us through the ways innovation can be used to... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

14/11/2019Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

Rail Technology Magazine’s Matt Roberts explains the significant role data can play within the future development of the rail industry. Standing as a cornerstone of the UK transport network, the rail industry is forever striving to innovate and maximise efficiency in all aspects of its work. Data is just one such way of achievi... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >
Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

02/07/2019Sunshine future beckons for South Wales Railways, says 10:10 Climate Action’s Leo Murray

Smart electrification is the way to boost clean energy resources, argues Leo Murray, director at 10:10 Climate Action. Contractors are clear... more >
Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

02/07/2019Ambition doesn’t have to be expensive, says Midland Connect's Maria Machancoses

The TCR Midlands conference is only days away and tickets are going fast for the sector event of the year at the Vox Conference Centre in Birming... more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he wo... more >