Network Rail has admitted a series of failings which led to the death of three people in a train derailment near Stonehaven in 2020. The company pleaded guilty to criminal charges at the High Court in Aberdeen.
Three people died and six were injured when a train struck a landslide at Carmont after heavy rain. Network Rail admitted failing to impose a speed restriction, warn the driver that part of the track was unsafe, or ask him to reduce his speed. It also admitted a number of failures over the maintenance and inspection of drainage in the area, and in adverse and extreme weather planning.
Driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62, died when the train derailed on 12 August 2020. Six other people were injured when the 06:38 Aberdeen to Glasgow service hit washed-out debris at Carmont, south of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. A drainage system in the area had been incorrectly installed. The train had been returning towards Aberdeen because the railway was blocked further down the line.
A Rail Accident Investigation Branch report said the train derailed because it struck debris that had washed out of a drainage trench. Almost a month’s rain had fallen in the area between 06:00 and 09:00 on the day of the crash. The report said Mr McCullough had been told to proceed at normal speed, and the train was travelling at about 73mph – below the limit of 75mph. Investigators said a drainage system had been incorrectly installed and highlighted problems with operational procedures in dealing with the effects of severe weather.
Network Rail, which owns and repairs the railway infrastructure across the UK, has said that safety changes have been made following the accident.