Network Rail fined £733,000 following ORR prosecution for freight train derailment

14 March 2018

Network Rail Infrastructure Limited has today been fined £733,000 at Bristol Crown Court for failing to undertake adequate maintenance to prevent the derailment of a freight train near Gloucester in October 2013.

The freight train partially derailed four miles south west of Gloucester station. The train continued to travel until it reached Gloucester West Junction, where a collision with the facing points caused an empty 5.9 tonne container to dislodge and fall down an embankment, causing extensive damage and throwing debris into the road below.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) found that while staff based at Network Rail’s Gloucester maintenance depot had identified an ongoing track defect, accentuated by inadequate drainage at the site of the derailment, its short and medium term repairs were ineffective and the planned long term solution had not been implemented.

Commenting on the case, ORR Head of Network Rail Route Teams, Tom Wake, said:

"Given Network Rail’s failure to remedy this ongoing fault, it was only a matter of time before a derailment took place, creating a genuine risk to passengers and the public.

"In this instance it was extremely fortunate that the loose container did not fall into the path of an on-coming train or cause injury to the public as it fell.

"The fine issued today sends a powerful message to the industry that the ORR is committed to protecting the safety of Britain’s railways and will not hesitate to take enforcement action when and where it is necessary."

Notes to editors

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  1. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is the UK’s rail regulator and highways monitor for England. ORR protects the interests of rail and road users; improving the safety, value and performance of railways and roads, today and in the future. Follow us @railandroad.
  2. Costs of £70,000 were also awarded.
  3. ORR’s Annual Health and Safety Report of Performance on Britain’s Railways: 2016-17 can be found on our website at:
  4. ORR prosecuted Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd for contravention of section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.