Kent

Network Rail guilty after signalman broke neck at level crossing

Doug Caddell
Image caption Doug Caddell said he thought he was going to die after breaking his neck

Network Rail has been found guilty of failing to assess risks after a signalman suffered a broken neck at a level crossing in Kent.

Doug Caddell was injured in East Farleigh, near Maidstone, in April 2015 when a car hit a gate he was trying to close at the crossing.

A jury at Maidstone Crown Court was unable to reach a verdict on a charge of failing to protect an employee.

Mr Caddell said the three-week court case had been "soul destroying".

CCTV footage showed Mr Caddell pushing the level crossing gate when it was hit by a vehicle, causing it to bounce back and knock the signaller to the ground.

Image copyright Office of Road and Rail
Image caption Doug Caddell was working at the level crossing in East Farleigh when a car hit the gate

Speaking after being injured, Mr Caddell said the incident had left him with "one very vivid memory of my wife holding back tears when she was begging me to breathe".

Network Rail is due to be sentenced at a later date.

The driver of the car died before he could be prosecuted.

'Life-changing'

Mr Cadwell, who was able to walk out of court, said after the verdict: "We are really grateful it is all over.

"It has been soul destroying and life-changing. We hope, as a result of this, signallers will have a system implemented that will cover their health and safety better."

An investigation by the independent safety regulator, the Office of Road and Rail (ORR), found Network Rail's risk assessment consisted only of a 30-minute census of traffic using the crossing and it had concluded the risk of deliberate misuse of the crossing was "significantly lower than average".

The ORR said Network Rail's assessment "did not constitute a suitable or sufficient risk assessment".

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "We accept this verdict and we have taken action to put in place suitable risk assessments.

"We also recognise that the incident which led to this investigation had a serious effect on the health and wellbeing of our signaller, who continues to be a valued member of our team."

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