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Out-of-control London Underground train costs three firms £300,000

Three companies were yesterday fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £44,000 in costs after a health and safety breach led to an engineering train running out-of-control for four miles.

The incident occurred on the Northern Line in August 2010, at 6.45am.

A broken-down engineering train, being towed uphill towards Highgate tube station, broke free from its connection and ran downhill out of control Southbound for 16 minutes.

The train eventually came to an unaided stop caused by an uphill incline at Warren Street station, after passing through seven populated stations and reaching speeds of up to 30 mph.

A prosecution was brought by the Office of Rail Regulation at the Old Bailey.

London Underground Limited, Tube Lines Limited and Schweerbau GMBH all pleaded guilty to charges under section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Schweerbau GMBH also pleaded guilty to an additional charge resulting from a failure to effectively co-ordinate, plan and work together in transporting the train.

Ian Prosser, ORR’s director of safety, said it was only “the professionalism of control room staff taking decisive action which prevented a collision between trains, and averted a much more serious outcome.”

“However, in this case, London Underground, Tube Lines and Schweerbau, through inadequate management and planning, failed to ensure the safe recovery of an engineering train. This is clearly unacceptable, and led to a potentially catastrophic incident on the Northern Line where the train careered out of control for over four miles.

 “London Underground is one of the safest railways in the world and normally has a very good safety record.

“The companies responsible for running and maintaining services have an important duty to ensure that their workers and members of the public are not exposed to unnecessary safety risks.

“We welcome the steps taken by the companies to improve safety management on London Underground since this incident. The regulator will continue to closely monitor the actions of all parties involved, and will not hesitate to step in should further safety failings be found.”

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