Companies fined £13.5 million

Mr Justice McKay today imposed fines of £10 million on Balfour Beatty and £3.5 million on Network Rail, having been found guilty of health and safety offences associated with the Hatfield rail crash.



Balfour, the company responsible for maintaining the section of track where the accident occurred, pleaded guilty in July to breaching health and safety standards. Last month, Network Rail was convicted on the same charge while Balfour was formally cleared of corporate manslaughter.



On 17 October 2000 four people died when a GNER train travelling from London to Leeds was derailed at Hatfield. The cause of the derailment was a broken rail caused by rolling contact fatigue, a condition formerly known as ‘gauge corner cracking’.


“The Hatfield tragedy was a terrible event for everyone involved. Lessons have been learnt and the rail industry has changed enormously for the better over the past five years,” commented Network Rail’s Chairman, Ian McAllister.



He added: “Since Network Rail took over the nation’s railway infrastructure some three years ago, maintenance has been taken in-house rather than being outsourced, and we have changed our approach from a ‘find and fix’ maintenance regime to one of ‘predict and prevent’.”



Despite the fine and an order to pay costs, Balfour Beatty maintains ‘the accident arose as a result of a systemic failure of the industry as a whole.’



Separately, Balfour Beatty has this week been awarded the £110 million contract, in joint venture with Carillion, to deliver 13 feeder stations and 620 miles of high voltage feeder for the West Coast Main Line rail electrification project for Network Rail.



The work involves modernising the overhead line equipment and enhancing the distribution infrastructure. It follows successful completion of the first phase of the West Coast Main Line Overhead Line Electrification and Distribution Upgrade in which Balfour Beatty has been a lead participant in joint venture with Network Rail and Carillion.