Grayrigg ‘more like history than justice’

29 February 2012

Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers’ union ASLEF, says the length of time between the Grayrigg derailment and the court case that began today ‘smacks more of a leisurely history lesson than a genuine striving for justice’.

‘On top of which, I can safely predict that the outcome will be what it always is – a meaningless fine and a gently slapped wrist. I'm annoyed and frustrated by it – but imagine how the family of Margaret Masson must feel.’

Mrs Masson died at Grayrigg when a Virgin Pendolino train travelling from London to Glasgow crashed on 23 February 2007. It derailed at 95 mph after hitting a faulty set of points. In all, 86 passengers and two crew members were injured.

Network Rail is charged with breaching health and safety laws in proceedings started by the rail regulator, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).

It has been shown that the derailment resulted from a failure of stretcher bars to hold the moveable rails a set distance apart when the points were operated. An investigation by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) blamed the immediate cause of the derailment as the poor maintenance of the failed points.

The maximum penalty the lower court can impose for the offence is a fine of £20,000, but a Crown Court can impose unlimited fines.

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