Train driver receives prison sentence for ignoring safety systems

The sentence occurred after he ignored warnings and safety systems on the Cambridge to London trainhe was driving – placing passengers and staff on board in great danger. Following the incident Mr Walford was relieved from all duties at First Capital Connect. It was heard how on 8 October 2013, the 20:40 Cambridge to London Kings Cross, driven by Mr Walford, passed a red signal at Hitchin station – a signal which instructs a driver to stop their train. The train’s warning safety system applied automatic brakes but Mr Walford deliberately reset the system and continued on without seeking the required authorisation. Prior to leaving Cambridge, Mr Walford had also failed to set up his Cab Secure Radio, which prevented any direct contact from the signaller. As a result of his actions Mr Walford’s train ran “out of control” putting himself, passengers and train staff at risk of a serious incident, such as a collision with an oncoming train.

An ORR investigation into the incident showed that Mr Walford failed to take reasonable care of the safety of himself, passengers and other persons who might have been affected by his actions. Deliberate decisions to avoid safety procedures following a signal passed at danger, such as the choices made by Mr Walford, are rare but carry potential catastrophic consequences.

At Stevenage Magistrates’ Court on 7 November, Mr Walford was sentenced to a three-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay costs of £500, after he pleaded guilty to a breach in health and safety law. Donald Wilson, principal safety inspector, ORR said: “Train drivers hold a position of great responsibility for safety on our railways. They must comply with health and safety law, and work in accordance with their licence and training.

“Mr Walford fell short of these standards, and, in doing so, showed a serious disregard for the safety of his passengers. His actions – ignoring warning signals and systems – could have led to a potentially catastrophic incident. He put his life, and the lives of others, at risk. This kind of incident is very rare, but where serious failings are found, those at fault will be held to account by the rail regulator.”

Source: Barbour Information

Post date: 24 Nov 2014

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