Network Rail fined half a million pounds for Suffolk level crossing collision

27 June 2013

Network Rail has been fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £23,421 following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for a breach of health and safety law which led to a 10 year old boy suffering serious injuries at a level crossing on a private road near Beccles, Suffolk, in 2010.

Today's sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court follows an ORR investigation into a train and car collision on 3 July 2010 at a level crossing between Beccles station and Oulton Broads South station in Suffolk. The train was travelling at 55mph when it struck the car, causing it to spin and throw the passenger, a 10 year old boy, through a window. The collision caused the passenger to suffer life-changing injuries while the driver of the car received minor injuries.

ORR's investigation found that the accident was caused by poor visibility of trains when approaching the crossing from the south side. ORR found Network Rail failed to act on information obtained from its own employees over a ten-year period which highlighted that users of the crossing were exposed to an increased risk of being struck by a train. Network Rail pleaded guilty to the charge on 13 March 2013, at Lowestoft Crown Court.

ORR's Director of Railway Safety, Ian Prosser, said:

Our investigation found evidence that Network Rail knew the level crossing on a private road near Beccles was unsafe for ten years, and yet took no action. This led to the collision between a car and train in July 2010 which left a 10 year old boy suffering life changing injuries. This is unacceptable from a company responsible for protecting the safety of millions of people on trains and at level crossings.
Since this incident, Network Rail has recognised significant changes are needed to improve the way it manages safety at level crossings. This includes the introduction of level crossing managers responsible for inspecting and carrying out risk assessments at all level crossings. ORR continues to monitor the company's progress.
To improve safety at level crossings ORR has recently announced a £67m fund for Network Rail to invest in the closure or upgrade of level crossings across Great Britain over the next five years.

Notes to editors

  1. The Office of Rail Regulation is the independent safety and economic regulator for Great Britain's railways. Follow the Office of Rail Regulation on Twitter @railregulation.
  2. On 12 June 2013, ORR announced over £2 billion savings had been identified in plans which will enable Britain's railways to achieve continued growth and increase rail capacity over the next five years. As part of this draft determination the regulator approved £67 million funding to upgrade and close level crossings in England and Wales. See Regulator identifies £2bn savings for Britain's railway from 2014 to 2019
  3. A charge was brought against Network Rail for breach of S3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.