Trackside incident lands rail operator £800k fine
Network Rail has been fined £800,000 after a worker was seriously injured after being hit by a Gatwick Express train travelling at 80mph.
Alan Evans was hit while walking next to the track near Redhill by a passenger service from Gatwick Airport to London Victoria and sustained serious injuries with his right shoulder bearing the brunt of the impact and his right arm left hanging on by the skin.
The incident happened in June 2014 when Evans, an experienced track worker, was supervising a gang of 11 people engaged in undertaking repairs to the Up Quarry line between Redhill Tunnel and Quarry Tunnel in Surrey.
He went through 22 surgical procedures after the accident and may still have to have his right arm amputated.
A prosecution was brought by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) following the incident.
The sentencing hearing at Guildford Crown Court, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, followed 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, Tom Wake, principal inspector at ORR, 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.”