Southeastern admits two breaches of health and safety

TRAIN operator Southeastern has admitted breaching health and safety regulations following an incident which saw a busy commuter train overshoot a station by two-and-a-half miles.

Southeastern pleaded guilty at Sevenoaks Magistrates Court in Kent to charges under two sections of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) launched the criminal prosecution against Southeastern following the incident on the London to Hastings line on November 8, 2010.

The 8am train, which passes through Etchingham, Robertsbridge, Battle and Crowhurst, should have stopped at Stonegate station.

But fresh leaf fall and rain had led to poor rail conditions and the driver of the train was unable to reduce the 64mph speed he had reached just before braking on the approach to Stonegate.

He used the emergency brake, with the train going through the station at about 50mph, passing a level crossing at Crowhurst Bridge in Burwash before coming to a stop 2.45 miles from the station.

A report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said the train failed to stop as there was “almost certainly” no sand in the sand hoppers which helps the train to brake.

Southeastern had previously said the company was ‘disappointed’ with the decision to prosecute and said a thorough investigation in conjunction with Network Rail and the

Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) had seen a number of changes put in place. The company will be sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on July 6.