Saturday, 2 Mar 2024

Network Rail pleads guilty over fatal Stonehaven train crash that killed three people | The Sun

NETWORK Rail has pleaded guilty to failing to alert a train driver to a speed safety risk ahead of the fatal Stonehaven crash that killed him and two other people.

The ScotRail service derailed on the Aberdeen to Glasgow line, heading north on August 12, 2020.



Train driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62, died in the tragedy.

The train derailed at 9.37am after it struck a landslide, hitting gravel and other stony material washed out from a drain.

It hit the side of a bridge, causing its power car and one of its four carriages to fall down an embankment.

Today, Network Rail appeared at the High Court in Aberdeen where they admitted serious safety failings.

The organisation pleaded guilty to failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practical, that railway workers not in its employment and members of the public travelling by train were not exposed to the "risk of serious injury and death from train derailment" as a result of failures in the construction, inspection and maintenance of drainage assets and in adverse and extreme weather planning.

The charge states that on August 12, 2020 Network Rail failed to impose an emergency speed restriction "in absence of current information about the integrity of the railway line and drainage assets between Montrose and Stonehaven", and failed to inform the driver that it was unsafe to drive the train at a speed of 75mph or caution him to reduce his speed.

It comes after a Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report published last March found errors in the construction of a drainage system installed by Carillion meant it was unable to cope with heavy rain which fell in the area on the morning of the crash.

Carillion went into compulsory liquidation in January 2018.

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The RAIB report made 20 recommendations to improve railway safety, many of which were directed at Network Rail.

A Network Rail spokesman said previously: "Since August 2020, we have been working hard to make our railway safer for our passengers and colleagues.

"We are committed to delivering on the recommendations made by RAIB and have also made other significant changes to how we manage the risk of severe weather to our network.

"Immediately after the accident, we inspected all similar locations across Britain and we also conducted a full survey of all types of trackside drainage on Scotland's railway.

"We have invested millions towards improving the resilience of our railway and are rolling out new technology to help us better respond to extreme weather events."

The spokesman said Network Rail has also changed how it manages the running of train services during periods when severe weather warnings are in place, and has introduced a new team of weather experts to its control room to provide round-the-clock, real-time analysis on how the weather may affect the railway.

He added: "From our day-to-day operations to our future planning, we are working hard to make our railway as safe and reliable as possible."

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