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Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Prosecutors given Hatfield crash evidence
Hatfield crash site
The Hatfield crash led to a review of rail safety
Evidence that could eventually be used to bring manslaughter charges over the Hatfield rail crash has been handed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The information relating to the October 2000 derailment, which killed four people and injured 70, was submitted by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC).

The crash, on a stretch of line managed by Balfour Beatty, is still under investigation by British Transport Police (BTP).


No amount of tinkering with a fundamentally flawed system can make it safe

Bob Crow
If the CPS decides there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, senior executives of Balfour Beatty and Railtrack could face be prosecuted.

On Thursday the HSC said the accident happened because a train travelled over a rail "that had been identified as in poor condition and which should have either been replaced or a temporary speed restriction applied".

It also published safety recommendations prepared by investigators following the crash.

Track design

On Thursday a CPS spokeswoman said transport police had also been forwarding their findings.

But she added: "We have not got all the information yet".

Safety recommendations
Properly-qualified maintenance crews
Workers to alert safety problems to managers quicker
Closer control of maintenance by Railtrack
Railtrack to revise track-inspection procedures
Review of track and train design
Stronger rolling stock
Review of overhead line equipment

Although the HSC's executive arm, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), has produced interim reports into Hatfield, no full report has been published yet because of possible legal proceedings.

The crash involved an East Coast main line London to Leeds express operated by the GNER train company, which came off the tracks in Hertfordshire.

The health and safety recommendations from the HSC focus on maintenance, track design and inspection and rolling stock and infrastructure design.

HSC chairman Bill Callaghan said many of the recommendations had already been addressed by the rail industry.

He said: "In the light of that, I have asked the industry to endorse the Board's work, to let me know how much work has been done so far to meet the recommendations, and what more needs to be done to fully implement them.

"I have also sought views on an appropriate timetable for completing this work."

'Tinkering'

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said the HSE should face up to the "inevitable" and recommend that rail maintenance be brought back in-house.

Flowers for crash victims
Four people died in the accident
He said: "The time has come for the HSE to acknowledge that no amount of tinkering with a fundamentally flawed system can make it safe.

"The recommendations highlight the failings in training, communications and management systems which are the direct result of privatisation.

"The maintenance of our railways should be taken out of the hands of those who can only put profits and shareholders first."

Paddington crash

Apart from Hatfield, BTP is also still taking evidence about the 1999 Paddington rail crash, which claimed 31 lives.

As with Hatfield, manslaughter charges could follow.

Originally the CPS had advised BTP that further investigation into Paddington, at which a train passed through a hard-to-see red light before colliding with another passenger train - was not justified.

But following representations from some of the Paddington families, the investigation was reopened.

BBC News Online's in-depth coverage on the state of the UK's railways


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