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Thursday, 28 August 2014

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Union chief hits out at rail fine ‘farce’ over Grayrigg disaster

A union boss has joined the relatives of the pensioner killed in the Grayrigg train crash in hitting out at the £4m fine imposed on the rail infrastructure company Network Rail.

Margaret Masson, 84, died in the 2007 crash.

The London-to-Glasgow Virgin express train she was on came off the rails at a speed of around 95 mph.

Network Rail, the publicly funded company responsible for maintaining the railways, has accepted it was at fault for the derailment, which killed Mrs Masson and left 88 others injured, 28 of them seriously.

The firm was fined £4m last month after its bosses admitted a charge brought under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Mrs Masson’s family have pointed out that as taxpayers they will effectively share part of the burden of the fine.

Their solicitor Soyab Patel said: “The fine of £4m together with costs will ultimately be borne by the taxpayer.

“Margaret Langley [Mrs Masson’s daughter] is a taxpayer. Her mother died in the crash. She and her husband suffered serious injuries. She finds it offensive she is contributing to the fine.”

Craig Johnston, a Carlisle-based official with the RMT rail union, said: “The same point was alluded to the judge during the case.

“It was a farce because she had to take into consideration who would pay the fine, and as a not-for-dividend company it would have to be paid out of either the company’s resources or by the passengers through fares.

“The reality is if we wanted to really get to the bottom of what happened we should have had a public inquiry.”

Mr Johnson added that he felt the politicians – from both the Conservative and Labour parties – who had allowed the industry to get into such a state should be brought to book for the problems.

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