NETWORK Rail has been fined £4m for “preventable” safety failings that led to a fatal train crash in Cumbria in 2007.
The publicly-funded owner of Britain’s railways was sentenced at Preston Crown Court yesterday for a breach of health and safety law that caused a Virgin Pendolino to come off the tracks on the West Coast Mainline.
The fine is Network Rail’s biggest sanction for safety breaches since the courts imposed a £4m penalty for the 1999 Paddington disaster.
One passenger died and 86 more were injured, 28 of them seriously, after a train hit a set of faulty points at 95mph and tumbled down a bank near Kendal in February 2007.
It took until 2011 to bring the case to court because of an ongoing coroners’ inquest into the death of 84-year-old Margaret Masson, who was traveling in the front carriage when she was fatally injured in the crash.
In February, Network Rail Infrastructure Group admitted failing to ensure a stretch of the West Coast Mainline was properly maintained, in breach of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.
The rail infrastructure group must pay the £4m fine plus £118,052 costs within 28 days.
The Office of Rail Regulation said yesterday the derailment “was a devastating and preventable incident.”