Firms fined over Hatfield crash

Two firms have been fined a total of £13.5m for breaching health and safety regulations over the 2000 Hatfield train crash, in which four people died.

Network Rail, formerly Railtrack, was fined £3.5m – the highest ever for a rail firm on health and safety grounds.

Maintenance firm Balfour Beatty was fined £10m. They were ordered to pay £300,000 each in costs.

The eight-month Old Bailey trial had heard the 117mph derailment was caused by a cracked section of the track.

The crash, involving the London to Leeds express train, also left 102 injured.

The £8m trial had heard a backlog of essential work had been allowed to accumulate, and the rail had been identified for repair 21 months earlier.

Balfour Beatty apologised for its role in the crash.

Mr Justice Mackay said in his 30 years in the legal profession he regarded the company’s failure as the “worst example of sustained industrial negligence in a high-risk industry he had ever seen”.

It was disclosed the track was checked from an inadequate vantage point and so inspectors were unable to see faults.

The judge called it an “indefensible practice”.

Commenting on the smaller £3.5m fine for Network Rail, he said: “Every pound spent on a fine can’t be spent on rail safety.”

Balfour Beatty and five rail executives had also faced charges of corporate manslaughter but were formally cleared by the judge due to lack of evidence.

On Tuesday, prosecutors dropped the case against four Balfour Beatty workers still facing charges over the crash.

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