Accident site at Carmont

UK: Infrastructure manager Network Rail has been fined £6·7m at the High Court in Aberdeen after pleading guilty to a contravention of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 over the fatal derailment at Carmont near Stonehaven.

On August 12 2020 torrential rainfall led to debris being washed out of a drain and onto the track, where it was hit by a ScotRail train which derailed, collided with a bridge parapet and fell down an embankment. The driver, conductor and a passenger were killed, and the other six people on the train injured.

A joint investigation by Police Scotland, British Transport Police and the Office of Rail & Road under the direction of the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service found that Network Rail had failed to ensure that contractor Carillion constructed the drain in accordance with the approved design. It had also not inspected the whole drain since its construction, and control staff had not been comprehensively trained to effectively analyse weather forecasts or use all available weather data resources.

Speaking for Network Rail following the sentencing on September 8, Managing Director of Scotland’s Railway Alex Hynes said ’it is clear that our infrastructure was at fault for the accident, so it is right that Network Rail pled guilty’.

‘We are absolutely committed to delivering on the recommendations made by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch in its report into the accident’, he added.

Following the conclusion of the criminal proceedings, the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service will now begin the process for a Fatal Accident Inquiry to examine the full circumstances surrounding the deaths and identify lessons that can be learned.


Landslip debris at Carmont

HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser said ‘Network Rail has made progress in implementing the safety recommendations that came from reviews of the failings that contributed to the accident. However, as highlighted in our 2023 annual ORR health and safety report, there remains much work to do as we all contend with the effects of climate change on our network.’

General Secretary of the RMT trade union Mick Lynch said ’instead of fining the publicly funded body, Network Rail should be forced to halt the culture of continual cutbacks which will are inevitably leading to a more dangerous railway’.

The TSSA union’s Organising Director Nadine Rae said ’it is important that we understand that this is a corporate failing by Network Rail’.