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POTTERS BAR RAIL CRASH INQUEST OPENS

Regulator investigation ‘open’ until the Coroner’s inquest concluded

On 10 May 2002, the rear coach of a four coach passenger train travelling from Kings Cross station, derailed after passing over a set of points just outside Potters Bar station.

The derailed coach became detached and slewed sideways, slid along the track, passing over a bridge and came to a rest on its side, wedged under the station canopy and bridging adjacent platforms. Seven people were killed and over 70 people were injured.

HSE published three interim reports into the incident. The last two reports included recommendations for improving safety on the railways

A final report may be published by Office for Rail Regulation (ORR) after all investigations are concluded and once any legal proceedings that may arise have been completed or ruled out.

ORR became responsible for the investigation when ORR took over from HSE as the health and safety regulator for the rail industry.

Inquest opens today

The inquest opening today (1 June 2010) will hear from survivors and relatives of those who died.

Judge Michael Findlay Baker QC will conduct the inquests at the Spirella Building in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. The hearing is expected to last two months.

Judge Baker said: “Eight years have passed since the Potters Bar rail crash. The delay in holding an inquest has been extreme and will have protracted to an exceptional degree the distress of those who have been bereaved. “In their interest and in the more general public interest, there must be no more delay.”

ORR will consider whether HSW proceedings are appropriate

On 17 October 2005, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that there was not a realistic prospect of conviction for an offence of gross negligence manslaughter in relation to the Potters Bar train derailment and the case was referred to HSE.

In April 2006 responsibility for regulation of health and safety on the railways transferred to ORR. The ORR investigation into the derailment remains ‘open’ until the Coroner’s inquest is concluded.

Once the inquest has been held, ORR will consider whether proceedings under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 are appropriate.

This is normal policy in accordance with the Work-Related Deaths Protocol and recognises the fact that additional information may come to light as a result of the inquest, or the Coroner may decide to refer the case back to the CPS for further consideration of a manslaughter charge.

The railway engineering firm Jarvis is reported to have admitted joint civil liability for the crash with Network Rail.

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