Network Rail fined £350k for level crossing safety failings

18 June 2012

Posted by Samuel Couratin

A fine of £356,250 has been imposed on the UK's rail infrastructure group following the death of a woman at a level crossing in 2009.

The fatality took place near Little Bedwyn, Wiltshire, with a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) against Network Rail for breaches of health and safety standards following the incident.

In addition to the penalty, the organisation will have to pay costs of £19,485 in connection with failings linked to the death of Julia Canning, who was walking her two dogs when she was struck by a train on Ma 6th 2009.

Judges at Southampton Crown Court ruled the incident at the Fairfield footpath and bridle way crossing could have been prevented and Network Rail should have acted on substantial evidence that pedestrians did not have sufficient visibility of approaching trains.

The ORR alleged that pedestrians were exposed to an increased safety risk at the crossing and its Deputy Director of Safety, Tom Wake, stated the death of Mrs Canning had been avoidable.

"Safety is the regulator's top priority and we continue to push Network Rail and the industry to deliver safety improvements at all level crossings," he added.

A recent case in Reading that resulted in a building firm being prosecuted also highlighted the importance of adhering to strict health and safety standards.

A decorator subcontracted by the firm was seriously injured when he fell through a substandard guard rail and the Health and Safety Executive found the contractor W Pocock and Sons, of New Lane Hill, Tilehurst had failed to ensure a guard rail in the light well was secure.

Philip Williams, 63, from Reading, was working on a housing development in the Berkshire town when the fall occurred and the firm in question pleaded guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 at Reading Magistrates Court, with a fine of £5,000 and costs of £2,706 meted out.

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