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POTTERS BAR RAIL CRASH PROSECUTIONS UPDATE

Network rail accept guilt whilst Jarvis await decision on prosecution

The Office of Rail Regulation’s (ORR) prosecution of Network Rail Infrastructure Limited and Jarvis Rail Limited following the Potters Bar derailment was heard for the first time at Watford Magistrates’ Court on 21st February 2011.

The prosecutions follow conclusion of the inquest and ORR’s investigation into the derailment of a West Anglia Great Northern express train at Potters Bar station in Hertfordshire on 10 May 2002. Seven people died and many more were seriously injured.

Network Rail Infrastructure Limited is being prosecuted under the HSW Act Section 3 regarding its failure, as infrastructure controller to provide and implement suitable and sufficient training, standards, procedures and guidance for the installation, maintenance and inspection of adjustable stretcher bars.

At the hearing Network Rail pleaded guilty and the court committed Network Rail to St Albans Crown Court where a sentencing hearing will take place on 30 March at 10am.

Prosecutor to consider ‘public interest’

Jarvis Rail Limited is facing a similar charge from its failure, as infrastructure maintenance contractor to provide and implement suitable and sufficient training, standards, procedures and guidance for the installation, maintenance and inspection of adjustable stretcher bars.

Jarvis Rail Limited were not present for the hearing. At ORR’s request the court adjourned the first appearance of Jarvis until 21 March, when they will appear again at the magistrates’ court.

In the meantime, ORR will decide whether it remains in the public interest to proceed with the prosecution of Jarvis, and will make this decision before the hearing on 21 March. In coming to a decision the regulator will “consult fully with the families of the victims and take into account their views”.

On 29th March 2010 Interim Receivers and Managers were appointed to manage the affairs, business and property of Jarvis Rail Limited.

Rail travel now “far safer”

Network Rail issued a statement insisting that railway travel was far safer and “almost unrecognisable” since the days of Railtrack and the Potters Bar tragedy. The firm said:

“Private contractors are no longer in control of the day-to-day maintenance of the nation’s rail infrastructure since Network Rail took this entire operation, involving some 15,000 people, in-house in 2004.

All of the recommendations made by both the industry’s own formal inquiry and the Health and Safety investigation have been carried out. Today the railways are safer than they have ever been, but today our task remains to build on that record and always to learn any lessons we can to make it ever safer for passengers and those who work on the railway.”

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