Network Rail accused over death

 

Pressure was mounting for a public inquiry into the safety of Britain’s railways last night after an inquest jury ruled that poorly maintained points were to blame for a fatal train crash on the West Coast Main Line.

An 84-year-old woman died and 22 people were injured when a high-speed Virgin Pendolino travelling from London to Glasgow careered off the tracks and plunged down an embankment in winter darkness near the remote village of Grayrigg in Cumbria in 2007.

In what has been described as the most significant breach of railway safety since the disaster at Potters Bar five years earlier, a jury heard that a catalogue of failures by Network Rail (NR) led to the tragedy.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), the industry’s independent regulator, said it was considering whether to bring criminal proceedings for possible health and safety offences in relation to the crash.

The Crown Prosecution Service is also awaiting a report from British Transport Police detailing any fresh new evidence to emerge from the inquest before deciding whether to reopen the case.

Meanwhile Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary, said pressure for faster and more frequent trains had led to unacceptable pressure on staff. “We cannot wait for another derailment and another inquest to deal with these issues and now need an urgent public inquiry,’ he said.

The family of Margaret Masson, 84, who was killed when the 300 tonne tilting train derailed at 95mph with 86 terrified passengers on board, accused Network Rail of negligence.

The two week inquest at Kendal in Cumbria had earlier heard tearful evidence from David Lewis, who was a track section manager for Network Rail at the time and one of three workers arrested over possible manslaughter charges but later released.

Mr Lewis told the jury that he had simply forgotten to check the faulty points a few days earlier while working under intense pressure during the £9bn upgrade amid a backlog of repairs and a shortage of staff and training.

Mrs Masson’s son, George, 62, praised Mr Lewis for trying to warn his bosses in a string of e-mails of the “shambles” over maintenance.

He said: “All this seems to have fallen on one man, Mr Lewis. But he has my utmost respect. He was the only person to show sincerity and he is going to suffer for this for the rest of his life, as we are.”

The inquest heard that paperwork had been fabricated sometimes using correcting fluid and that faults on the line were not always reported up the chain of command at NR. One worker said staff were subjected to "bully boy" management.

Prashant Popat QC, representing NR, said there had been "substantial human and financial investment" in the railways since the crash. A thorough review of points after Grayrigg revealed that a third of the 700 tested nationwide had faults.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron, who is President of the Liberal Democrats, backed the call for an inquiry and said he would be writing to the Prime Minister urging the Government to act. Next week coroner Ian Smith will issue a report raising his concerns for industry safety.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Key stage 1 and 2 teachers required for the Vale of Glamorgan

£90 - £110 per day + Travel Scheme & Free Training: Randstad Education Cardiff...

Foundation Phase Teacher required

£90 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Exciting opputunities availabl...

Learning Support Assistant

£65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

Learning Support Assistant - Newport

£65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz