Network Rail to be prosecuted over deaths of girls at Elsenham

NETWORK Rail is to be prosecuted for breaching health and safety law over the level crossing deaths of two teenage girls, it was announced today.

Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13, died when an express train hit them at the station in December 2005. The girls had used the station footpath crossing, owned and operated by Network Rail, to reach the station platform and were on their way to catch another train for a Christmas shopping trip to Cambridge.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) today lodged charges at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.

An investigation, which was originally closed in May 2007, was reopened by ORR in February 2011 when a further Network Rail document was brought to the rail regulator’s attention.

Network Rail faces two charges under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and one charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Director of railway safety at ORR, Ian Prosser, said: “After careful consideration and examination of Network Rail documents not previously seen by ORR, we have concluded that there is enough evidence, and that it is in the public interest, to bring criminal proceedings against Network Rail.”

Chief executive of Network Rail, David Higgins, said: “Since this accident in 2005 we have launched a major programme to update the assessments of all our 7,000 plus crossings, improving risk management and safety; and we have closed more than 500 crossing since 2009.

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“When it comes to safety we will never be complacent and we continue to work alongside local communities and all the relevant authorities and other stakeholders to make our level crossings safer still.”

The first hearing is due to take place at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on January 31, 2012.