Companies to face criminal courts over 2002 derailment that killed seven people

Jarvis and Network Rail will be prosecuted over the Potters Bar rail disaster, which killed seven people in 2002 after a train derailed.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) announced that there was enough evidence to proceed with criminal proceedings after an inquest in June and July this year.

Both Jarvis and Network Rail will be charged under the Health and Safety Act for failing to provide “sufficient training, standards, procedures and guidance for the installation, maintenance and inspection of adjustable stretcher bars” which keep movable sections of the track the correct width for a train’s wheels.

The companies could face an unlimited fine if found guilty.

In 2005 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advised the police that there was no realistic prospect of a manslaughter conviction for either of the companies over the disaster.

The CPS told the ORR last month that it saw no reason to reverse its 2005 decision, but Ian Prosser, director of rail safety at ORR said that there was now enough evidence to bring charges under the Health and Safety Act:

“The conclusion of the recent inquest into the derailment at Potters Bar has allowed the regulator to make a decision on whether any enforcement action should be brought in relation to the incident.

“I have decided there is enough evidence, and it is in the public interest, to prosecute Network Rail and Jarvis Rail for serious health and safety breaches. For the sake of the families involved, we will do all we can to ensure the prosecutions proceed as quickly as possible,” he said.

The first court appearance is due to take place at Watford Magistrates’ Court on 7 January 2011.