In June, 2014, a track worker sustained multiple serious and life-changing injuries while performing rail maintenance work near Redhill in Surrey.
Today's sentencing hearing at Guildford Crown Court, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, follows an extensive ORR investigation into the incident.
ORR inspectors concluded that the work on the main line between Brighton and London was inadequately planned and managed, placing track maintenance workers in unnecessary danger.
The Court heard that works were scheduled whilst fast, frequent trains continued to run, in an area with a narrow and steep embankment where the ability of track workers to retreat to a 'position of safety' when trains approached was materially compromised.
The Court also heard that the works could have been carried out at night, when other scheduled works would have ensured that no trains were running.
Commenting on the case, ORR Principal Inspector Tom Wake, said:
"This incident shows that although Britain’s railways are the safest in Europe, we can never be complacent.
"In 2014, Network Rail's planning of track maintenance work near Redhill fell below legal standards, placing workers in unnecessary danger and causing an employee to suffer life changing injuries.
"After the incident, Network Rail undertook a review of worker safety on the London to Brighton line, reducing track maintenance with trains running, introducing better warning systems and providing additional training for staff.
"We continue to monitor the company. Our inspectors will not hesitate to step in if needed, to protect the safety of workers or members of the public."
Notes to editors
- 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.
- ORR’s Annual Health and Safety Report of Performance on Britain’s Railways: 2015-16 can be found on our website at: https://orr.gov.uk/publications/reports/health-and-safety/annual-health-and-safety-report-2016.
- ORR prosecuted Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd for contraventions of sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.