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COMPANY FAILED TO PREVENT TRESPASSER DANGER

Boundary fence gap should have been fixed to avoid fatal access to power line

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has prosecuted English, Welsh and Scottish Railways International (EWSI) following the death of 13 year old boy and serious injury of two teenage boys at Liverpool rail depot in August 2009.

Liam Gill and two friends trespassed on the disused Allerton rail depot, gaining access through a gap in the boundary fence. The depot contained a number of 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 sentencing at Liverpool Crown Court (16 Nov) followed an ORR investigation into the incident which found that EWSI had failed to adequately prevent trespass on the depot by not ensuring the boundary fence was maintained.

Insufficient steps taken to prevent unauthorised access to the site

English, Welsh and Scottish Railways International (EWSI) was fined £180,000 and ordered to pay costs of £59,554.

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.

These factors were a significant cause of Liam’s death. EWSI pleaded guilty to two charges relating to these failings at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court in autumn 2011.

Ian Raxton, ORR 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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