The 2007 Greyrigg crash in Cumbria left one person dead and 86 injured. Coroner ruled that badly maintained points caused the Virgin Pendolino derailment. Crash site image courtesy of RMT

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Transport unions have welcomed the announcement of criminal charges against Network Rail over the Greyrigg train derailment in Cumbria in February 2007,  in which one person was killed and 86 more injured – 28 of them seriously.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said:”We welcome the fact that the Office of Rail Regulation are taking criminal proceedings againt Network Rail although we are disappointed that it has taken five years for this to happen.

“Our long held view, suported by last year’s full inquest, is that this crash came about as a result of the bully boy regime which operated under former chief executive Iain Coucher and his cronies. Thankfully, they are now part of history.”

Last year, an inquest jury found that badly maintained points caused the death of 84 year old Margaret Masson after the Virgin Pendolino train derailed on the West Coast line from London to Glasgow.

Network Rail is charged under health and safety law for its “failure to provide and implement suitable and sufficient standards, procedures, guidance, training, tools and resources for the inspection and maintenance of fixed stretcher-bar points”.

However, the RMT was critical of the regulator’s role in the criminal case.

General secretary Bob Crow said the ORR is facing two ways: “On the one hand as the regulator taking this action and on the other as the budget holder demanding yet more cuts from Network Rail that add to the risk of having inadequate time and staff to complete proper patrols and maintenance.

“There remain systemic problems which have failed to be addressed since this derailment and they have been compounded by the ORR-driven cuts regime and the looming threat to jobs of the McNulty Rail Review.

“This prosecution does not let the ORR off the hook for their role as the driver of the cuts that are still ongoing and RMT repeats its call for an urgent public inquiry that establishes all the facts and which looks at the whole culture of penny pinching and short staffing that is prevalent on the railways.”


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