Network Rail fined £733k over freight train derailment

Image caption,
The container derailed while travelling close to London Road in Gloucester

Network Rail has been fined £733,000 over a freight train derailment in 2013.

An empty wagon came off the tracks west of Gloucester station and fell down an embankment.

The Office of Road and Rail (ORR) said it was "only a matter of time" before a train derailed due to a failure to repair defective track.

Network Rail said it had "developed world-leading technology" since the incident to deal with similar faults.

It continued to Gloucester West Junction, where the empty 5.9 tonne container fell down an embankment, throwing debris into a road below.

The track between Gloucester and Lydney was blocked, and Network Rail had to replace 1,300 yds (1.2 km) of track, two sets of points, 300 sleepers, two miles of cable and a level crossing.

Image caption,
The railway line between Gloucestershire and Wales was closed for four days

The ORR found that, while staff at Network Rail's Gloucester maintenance depot had identified an ongoing track defect, "its short and medium-term repairs were ineffective and the planned long-term solution had not been implemented".

"Given Network Rail's failure to remedy this ongoing fault, it was only a matter of time before a derailment took place, creating a genuine risk to passengers and the public," said Tom Wake from ORR.

"In this instance it was extremely fortunate that the loose container did not fall into the path of an on-coming train or cause injury to the public as it fell."

Graham Hopkins, Network Rail's safety, technical and engineering director, said the organisation had "come a long way since the derailment".

"Since then we have developed world-leading technology to detect and manage the type of fault that caused this incident," he added.

The ORR prosecuted Network Rail for contravention of section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work at Bristol Crown Court. Network Rail was also told to pay £70,000 costs.

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