Network Rail fined £ 135,000 after regulator investigates teenager electrocution in East Lothian

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Following a regulator’s inquiry into the electrocution of a teenager in East Lothian, the state-owned corporation that runs rail networks has been fined £ 135,000.

The Rail and Road Office (ORR) reports that since its i9 investigation, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) have requested prosecution against Network Rail.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court, the firm has now been fined £ 135,000 for failing to maintain and enhance rail fencing near Musselburgh, causing a 13-year-old boy to suffer severe injuries.

On Dec. 15, 2020, after pleading guilty to a violation of the Health and Safety Code, Network Rail was fined for the security breach, ORR reported.

The incident occurred on the railroad track near the University of Queen Margaret in Musselburgh on Friday, Aug. 19, 2016.

A group of teenagers reached the railway fence gap before the 13-year-old climbed to the roof of a freight train tanker, which had stopped at a signal.

He came close to the overhead 25,000-volt line and got an electric shock that caused serious burns.

The subsequent investigation by ORR found that while there was strong evidence of trespass and graffiti in the area, the fencing installed by Network Rail was substandard and poorly maintained, allowing the rail facility to be easily accessed without authorization.

Network Rail has done a lot to limit the number of instances of trespassing on the railroad and to raise awareness of the potentially life-threatening dangers that can result, HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser said.

“But in this case, it has failed to maintain an adequate boundary to prevent people from getting on the railroad tracks and an incident like this from occurring,” he said.

“The railroad is an extremely dangerous environment and I would urge parents to talk to their children about the dangers and remind them to stay off the tracks.”

The ORR said that, under Section 76 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, the Crown Office admitted a plea from Network Rail and issued the fine on Tuesday.

ORR claimed that the plea had been presented and approved on the basis of the admitted failure of Network Rail to preserve and strengthen the rail boundary controls.

At Monktonhall Junction towards Millerhill, the rail line under investigation runs from the East Coast Main Line, and the incident site was near Musselburgh station.

With a 25,000 volt AC overhead grid, the line is electrified, and a well-used public footpath runs parallel to the rail line below the A1 overpass.

ORR said that there is significant graffiti and other signs of long-term trespass in the area on both sides of the railroad boundary.

Network Rail was fined £ 10,000 last month for operating trains over a storm-damaged viaduct on the West Coast Main Line at more than 100 mph.

The fine, declared by the Office of Road and Rail (ORR), was levied on Nov. 18 at Lanark Sheriff Court.

In late 2015, the Lamington Viaduct – which spans South Lanarkshire’s River Clyde – was destroyed by heavy storms.

Before it was closed for major repairs to its foundations, Network Rail allowed many trains to use the crossing.

In November 2016, a Rail Accident Review Division study released pointed to major shortcomings in the bridge control and safety evaluation program of Network Rail.

It noticed that most of the second pier’s foundations had been washed out by floods during Storm Frank on New Year’s Eve 2015.

Network Rail has been invited to comment.

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