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Hatfield train derailment

The train derailment near Hatfield on 17 October 2000 led to the loss of four lives, with 70 people injured. The investigation into the derailment was undertaken jointly by HSE and the British Transport Police with the latter in the lead.

Responsibility for regulation of health and safety on the railways passed from HSE to ORR in April 2006.  The final report from the Investigation Board will be written after reflecting on the outcome of all legal proceedings, including the Coroner’s Inquest, and will be published in due course.


On 9 July 2003 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced that six individuals had been charged with the manslaughter of the four people who died in the Hatfield derailment and with breaches of provisions under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA). A further six individuals had been served with summonses for breaches of HSWA. In addition, summonses for manslaughter and breaches of HSWA were served on Network Rail (formerly Railtrack plc) as the infrastructure controller and Balfour Beatty Rail Infrastructure Services Ltd (formerly Balfour Beatty Rail Maintenance Ltd) as the maintenance contractor.

At a hearing on 1 September 2004 the manslaughter charges against Railtrack, and manslaughter and health and safety charges against some of these individuals (employed by Railtrack), were dismissed.
Manslaughter charges against five executives, three from Railtrack and two from Balfour Beatty and a corporate manslaughter charge against engineering firm Balfour Beatty were dismissed by the Judge. On 18 July 2005, Balfour Beatty pleaded guilty to a health and safety charge relating to the derailment. On Tuesday 6 September 2005, Network Rail (Railtrack) was found guilty of health and safety charges, but the five individuals involved were found not guilty. On 7 October 2005, Network Rail was fined £3.5 million and Balfour Beatty was fined £10 million and both were ordered to pay £300,000 costs each. The fine for Balfour Beatty was subsequently reduced on appeal to £7.5 million.

The immediate cause of the derailment was the fracture and subsequent fragmentation of a rail. The HSE investigation examined a number of systems and process issues. These related to the root (or underlying) causes of the derailment and included responsibility for the management and maintenance of the line.

The HSE Investigation Board shared all its technical findings and safety critical information with those concerned in the industry so that lessons can be learnt.

ORR April 2006