DB Cargo fined £2.7 million after children seriously injured at rail depot

13 March 2019

DB Cargo (UK) Ltd has today been fined £2.7 million, with £188,873.89 costs, after being convicted of one offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Sentence was passed by His Honour Judge Earl sitting at Newcastle Crown Court where DB Cargo was found guilty on 5 October 2018 following a prosecution by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

The court had heard that a 13-year-old boy suffered life-changing injuries after receiving an electric shock from 25,000-volt overhead line equipment at Tyne Yard in Gateshead.

On 14 June 2014 two boys, aged 11 and 13, and two 13-year-old girls entered Tyne Yard. The two boys climbed on top of a stationary wagon, part of a 22-wagon train due to leave the yard later that day. While on the wagon one of the boys made contact with the live current and suffered serious life changing injuries as a result, the other boy received minor burns.

The ORR investigation revealed that trespassers often visited a disused signal box at the yard, known as the ‘haunted house’, as DB Cargo failed to ensure that non-employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety through its activities.

DB Cargo (UK) Ltd also pleaded guilty at the conclusion of the trial to a single count of contravention of a requirement to produce information under s.20 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. A request was made for documentation from the defendant by one of ORR’s Inspectors and that request was refused. DB Cargo was fined £33,500 for that offence.

Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, said:

"Our thoughts remain with the victim who suffered such awful injuries, the other children injured and traumatised, and also their families and friends who will have been deeply affected by this harrowing incident.

"We welcome the sentence which clearly indicates the seriousness with which this offence is viewed and we expect DB Cargo and the rail industry as a
whole to look very hard at their sites and make sure they are doing everything possible to ensure they are secure.

"This incident is a reminder to adults and children that railway sites can have many dangers, often not obvious, and that trespass on railway premises can lead to serious injuries."

Notes to editors

  1. DB Cargo (UK) Ltd Limited was found guilty of failing to discharge its duty under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was therefore guilty of an offence contrary to Section 33(1)((a) of the Act.
  2. The Office of Rail and Road is the UK’s rail regulator and strategic roads monitor for England. Follow us @railandroad.