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Historic Railway Disasters
10 Mar 99



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Railtrack slated in accident report

In a report published today on an accident in Kent in 1997, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found that Railtrack and its maintenance sub-contractors took no action to put right known safety problems with its track.

Photo: Jeremy Selwyn/Sky News
Accident scene at Bexley 1997
The accident which occurred on 4 February 1997 involved a freight train operated by Connex South Central. Seven of its 19 loaded ballast wagons were derailed and pluged through the parapet of a viaduct. Four people working beneath suffered serious injuries.

Amongst the report's findings were that Railtrack was aware of the unsafe condition of the bridge, but took no action to remedy it. A contractor, South East Infrastructure Maintenance Company had identified bridge timbers as needing urgent repair, but had not arranged for these repairs to be done. Southern Track Renewals Company Ltd failed to make adequate arrangements to ensure wagons were not overloaded.

The train operating company (toc), Connex South Central also came in for criticism from the report. It found that the training of the driver of the train was inadequate and that no reassessment of his training had been undertaken. Also, arrangements for inspection, maintenance and calibration of the locomotive speedometers were inadequate.

Although blame for the accident was initially focussed on the driver for driving too fast, prosectuions were brought against Railtrack, South East Infrastructure Maintenance and Southern Track Renewals. Each company was fined 150,000 for breaches of UK safety legislation.

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Safety chiefs blame crash on Railtrack
Sky News 10/03/99

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