Rail infrastructure company Network Rail has been convicted following the death of a woman in 2010.
Jane Harding, aged 52, died when the car she was travelling was struck by a train. The accident occurred at a level crossing in Herefordshire shortly after the barriers had been raised by the signalman on duty, who had mistakenly believed the train had already passed through the crossing. Birmingham Crown Court is thought to have heard that he had been distracted by a call to the signal box relating to a crossing further up the track.
It has been suggested that the accident was entirely preventable and that Network Rail had decided not to install an automatic barrier locking system. It is considered that such a system would have detected the oncoming train and held the barriers down. This would also not have allowed the barriers to be raised manually, even if it was viewed to be clear to do so.
Following the incident, Network Rail is said to have adopted a policy of closing crossings wherever possible. It has reportedly closed around 700 crossings completely, which “along with a £130m investment in improvements across the country is making level crossings even safer”.
The company was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay £33,000 in costs for breaches of health and safety regulations in relation to the incident.
Signalman, Adrian Maund, was also fined £1,750 plus a costs contribution of £750 for failing to take reasonable care for the safety of persons using the crossing. In addition to the monetary fine, he was ordered to undertake 275 hours of unpaid community service.