The derailment of a ScotRail HST at Carmont, near Stonehaven in north east Scotland, was caused by Network Rail’s failures to impose a speed restriction and to maintain an embankment drain properly, a court has been told.
The derailment on 12 August 2020, in which three people lost their lives, happened after a Glasgow-bound train had been reversed at Carmont signal box because of another landslide further up the line, after several hours of very heavy rain.
The HST was returning to Aberdeen when it collided with debris on the track and struck a bridge parapet. Some of the vehicles overturned down an embankment and a fire broke out in one of them, the leading power car. The crash claimed the lives of 45-year old driver Brett McCullough, 58-year old conductor Donald Dinnie and 62-year old passenger Christopher Stuchbury. Six people were hurt.
The High Court in Aberdeen was told on 7 September that the drain had been built by contractor Carillion, which has since ceased trading, but Network Rail had not made sure it was constructed properly. It had also failed to have a handover meeting with Carillion after the work had been done, and did not have a proper system for dealing with the effects of bad weather. The Met Office had issued an amber ‘severe weather’ warning for the area the day before.
Prosecutor Alex Prentice KC told the court: ‘Network Rail cooperated fully with the investigation, and from the outset were clear that this case would result in a guilty plea.’
Network Rail admitted two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £6,700,000.
In a statement last night, Network Rail Scotland managing director Alex Hynes said: ‘The Carmont derailment and the tragic loss of Christopher Stuchbury, Donald Dinnie and Brett McCullough was a terrible day for their families, everyone involved, and for the railway network.
‘It is clear that our infrastructure was at fault for the accident, so it is right that Network Rail pled guilty.
‘To the families of those who lost their lives we would say again how deeply sorry we are that this tragedy was able to happen. And to those survivors who were injured, we are very sorry for the pain and distress caused.
‘Since the accident, we have been working hard to make our railway safer and to learn the lessons of Carmont.
‘We are absolutely committed to delivering on the recommendations made by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch in its report into the accident.’
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said it will now ‘begin the process for a Fatal Accident Inquiry to examine the full circumstances surrounding these deaths, identify the lessons that can be learned and help to avoid such incidents happening in the future’.