Metro worker John Bell's overhead line death 'accidental'

Image caption,
Metro trains are connected to overhead power lines

A rail worker killed trying to repair an overhead rail line he was unaware was live died accidentally, an inquest has ruled.

Tyne and Wear Metro linesman John Bell volunteered to fix damaged equipment while doing pre-planned maintenance at a depot on 6 July 2014.

The 43-year-old mistakenly thought the section of overhead line had been isolated from the network.

But the inquest at Newcastle Crown Court heard it was still live.

The inquest was told Mr Bell, from Killingworth, North Tyneside, became aware of a problem with a "dropper", which connects two overhead cables.

Coroner Karen Dilks said when Mr Bell grabbed the cable he was electrocuted and sent flying from his ladder.

'Popular employee'

Forensic evidence showed he had suffered burns to the palms of both hands - consistent with him gripping live cables.

During the inquest it emerged that power to a section of line 750 yards (685m) away had been turned off, but that no authorisation was in place for work to be done where Mr Bell attempted his repair.

After the hearing, Tobyn Hughes, Managing Director of Nexus, said: "John Bell was a popular and long-serving employee and his tragic death four years ago affected everyone at Nexus deeply and continues to do so.

"We lost a valued friend and colleague, and our thoughts remain with his family."

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