A train driver who ignored a red light and purposefully overrode the vehicle’s emergency brakes has been given a three-month suspended sentence.
Safety inspectors said Scott Walford’s actions could have had “potentially catastrophic” consequences.
Walford was driving a First Capital Connect train from Cambridge to London on 8 October 2013 when the incident happened.
Overrode the safety system
Stevenage Magistrates’ Court heard how he first ignored a red signal at Hitchin station indicating he should stop.
Shortly after, when the vehicle’s automatic brakes were applied by the safety system, Walford reset the mechanism to allow the train to continue.
The court heard how Walford had not sought authorisation to override the brakes on the train, which had left Cambridge at 8.40pm.
Further investigation found that Walford had not set up his radio before leaving Cambridge, which meant that the signaller could not contact him.
Train accident investigation
His actions put the lives and well-being of himself, passengers and his colleagues at risk, according to investigators from the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), who said the train could have suffered a head-on collision.
Donald Wilson, principal safety inspector, ORR said that train drivers are responsible for the health and safety of everyone who uses the railways, but Walford had abused that responsibility.
Mr Wilson said it was vital that drivers work within health and safety law and operate in accordance with their licence and training.
Serious disregard for others
Walford, however, “fell short” of the standards required of him, according to Mr Wilson, showing a “serious disregard” for the safety of those around him by ignoring the warning signals.
Mr Wilson added that train accidents were very rare but stressed that the ORR would hold negligent staff to account and punish them when health and safety breaches were discovered.
Walford, of Haycroft Road in Stevenage, Herts, who has since been sacked by First Capital Connect, to a breach of health and safety law and was given a three-month suspended prison sentence and made to pay costs of £500.
Source: Hertfordshire Mercury
Date Published: November 14, 2014
Author: David Brown