Rail Company Sentenced For Overshoot

A rail company has been ordered to pay £90,000 in costs and fines after one of its trains overshot a station by nearly two-and-a-half miles because there was no sand onboard to help the braking system.

Maidstone Crown Court heard the Southeastern service from Charing Cross to Hastings overran Stonegate station on rails covered with wet leaves in November 2010.

Prosecutor Richard Evans said: "Effectively, the train was out of control for 3.2 miles from when braking started to when the train stopped.''

He said inadequate logging procedures and a lack of communication between Southeastern employees meant that the train travelled 929 miles after a sand refill report was generated, and that the train was likely to have had no sand on board for about two days when it overran.

Southeastern pleaded guilty in May to two charges under two sections of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act involving the risk the incident caused to its employees and the general public.

The court heard that leaf mulch on the line meant that conditions between the steel rails and train wheels were much like "oil on a non-stick frying pan''.

Neil Garnham QC, representing Southeastern, said that even if everything that should have been done had been done, the train would still have overshot Stonegate station by up to 0.8 miles because of poor rail adhesion.

Judge Andrew Patience said he was disturbed by the fact there had been no warning system in the cab for the driver and that it was only down to good fortune that there had been "no loss of life or limb'' or serious damage to property.

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