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Thu June 24 2021

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Network Rail fined for fatal safety failings

28 May 12 Network Rail has been fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £32,500 for safety offences that led to the death of one of its maintenance workers and the serious injury of another.

The prosecution at Reading Crown Court was brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) and related to two ‘red zone’ incidents that took place in the Thames Valley region.

On 29 April 2007, in the Ruscombe area near Twyford, track maintenance worker Charlie Stockwell was struck by a train and killed while welding. The following year, on 23 May at Kennington Junction near Hinksey, track maintenance worker David Coles was also struck by a train, and severed his leg, while testing the locking mechanism on track points.

ORR’s investigation found that Network Rail had failed to ensure the safety of its employees working on the red zone sites. Red zones are work sites where trains continue to run.

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Since the incidents, Network Rail has made some changes in a bid to improve safety for its track maintenance workers and reduced the amount of red zone working carried out from 50% of maintenance work to 25%. The locking mechanism of points are also now tested when no trains are running.

ORR deputy director of railway safety Tom Wake said: “Network Rail’s poor planning and inadequate management of track maintenance work on the railway in the Thames Valley area led to the death of one worker and the serious injury of another in two separate, yet similar, incidents. These were serious failings on Network Rail’s part with tragic consequences.  

“We acknowledge that Network Rail has made a number of changes to improve safety for track workers since these incidents. But as the failings were significant, Network Rail must be held to account."

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