Grayrigg crash: Network Rail fined £4m over death
- 4 April 2012
- From the section Cumbria
Network Rail has been fined £4m over the Grayrigg crash in Cumbria in which an 84-year-old woman died and 88 people were injured.
Margaret Masson, of Glasgow, died after the Virgin train derailed on the West Coast Main Line in February 2007, after going over a "degraded" set of points.
Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd had admitted health and safety breaches.
Mrs Masson's family said they found it "offensive" that as taxpayers they would be contributing to the fine.
After sentencing on Wednesday, solicitor Soyab Patel, speaking on behalf of Mrs Masson's family, said: "The fine of £4m, together with costs, will ultimately be borne by the taxpayer.
"Mrs Langley [Mrs Masson's daughter] is a taxpayer.
"Her mother died in the crash. She and her husband suffered serious injuries.
"She finds it offensive she is contributing to the fine."
Network Rail pleaded guilty to a charge under section 3(1) of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act last month.
Passing sentence at Preston Crown Court, Mrs Justice Swift said: "This was a very serious offence and could have easily led to greater loss of life than actually occurred."
The judge said if convicted after trial the penalty would have been £6m but credit was given for the guilty plea.
Network Rail was ordered to pay the sum, along with £118,037 costs, within 28 days.
The director of railway safety at the Office of Rail Regulation, Ian Prosser, said: "The derailment near Grayrigg was a devastating and preventable incident which has had long-term consequences for all involved.
"It tragically caused the death of Mrs Masson and shattered the lives of others. My thoughts are with Mrs Masson's family and all those injured and affected by this horrific incident."
He said Network Rail was focused on improving safety measures but at times it had been too slow.
Network Rail chief executive David Higgins described the crash as a "terrible event".
He said: "Within hours it was clear that the infrastructure was at fault and we accepted responsibility, so it is right that we have been fined.
"Nothing we can say or do will lessen the pain felt by Mrs Masson's family but we will make the railways safer and strive to prevent such an accident ever happening again.
"We have learnt from the accident, determined to recognise what we got wrong and put it right."
Potters Bar crash
A victim impact statement from Mrs Masson's granddaughter was read out in court.
Margaret Jones described the manner of her grandmother's death as "bitter", because she felt it could have been avoided.
Mrs Justice Swift said that no fine could put a value on the life lost, but the penalty had been imposed to "mark the seriousness of the offence".
She added: "The importance of implementing safe and adequate systems for the inspection and maintenance of the infrastructure is paramount, in order to ensure that accidents like the ones at Potters Bar and Grayrigg do not occur."
Network Rail was fined £3m for the Potters Bar crash in which seven people died.
That crash, in 2002, also involved safety breaches at a faulty set of points.