DB Cargo fined £1.2m after teenager suffers life-changing injuries from 25,000 volt electric shock

9 January 2020

DB Cargo (UK) Ltd has today been fined £1.2m, with £27,873.03 costs, after being convicted of one offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The sentence was passed by District Judge Wheeler sitting at Wolverhampton Magistrates' Court after DB Cargo pleaded guilty on 31 October 2019 following a prosecution by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

The court heard that a 13-year-old boy suffered life-changing injuries after receiving an electric shock from 25,000-volt overhead line equipment at Bescot Yard freight terminal in Walsall on 1 June 2017.

The boy and two 13 year-old friends entered the freight terminal through a hole in the fence next to adjacent playing fields. Two of the three boys climbed on top of a train, and while standing on the roof, one suffered a devastating electric shock from the 25,000 V overhead power lines. He sustained 40% burns and life changing injuries. The second child sustained burns to his hand and a broken arm. The third child was not physically harmed.

The ORR investigation revealed that DB Cargo was aware that members of the public were often gaining unauthorised access to the site, with 35 incidents documented between July 2012 and June 2017. On 28 May 2017, just a few days prior to the incident, DB Cargo recorded that several youths had been spotted clambering over locomotives.

Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, said:

"Our thoughts remain with the victims who suffered such terrible injuries, and their family and friends who have also been deeply affected.

"We welcome the sentence which shows the seriousness with which the court has taken this case, and we expect the rail industry to make sure their sites are secure and minimise the chances of a repeat of this incident.

"We hope this acts as a reminder to adults and children to stay off railway sites which can be very dangerous places."

Notes to editors

  1. DB Cargo pleaded guilty to one count of failing to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment, who may have been affected, were not exposed to risks to their health and safety, namely by failing to take reasonably practicable measures to prevent trespassers from entering Bescot Yard, in contravention of s.3(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
  2. DB Cargo was fined £2.7 million on 13 March 2019 after children were seriously injured at its Tyne Yard depot.
  3. The Office of Rail and Road is the UK’s rail regulator and strategic roads monitor for England. Follow us @railandroad.

*First note to editor amended on 14 January 2020 to make clear DB Cargo pleaded guilty.

For more information please contact Kenny Walker on 020 7282 3737.