Essex

Network Rail prosecuted over girls' deaths at Elsenham

Network Rail is to be prosecuted over the deaths of two girls at a level crossing in Essex almost six years ago.

Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13, died when an express train hit them at Elsenham on 3 December 2005.

The girls were about to catch another train for a Christmas shopping trip to Cambridge.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) will lodge charges at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

The girls had used the station footpath crossing, owned and operated by Network Rail, to reach the station platform.

They were trying to catch a Cambridge-bound train which had stopped at the station.

They were hit by a through-train heading to Stansted Airport after they opened the gates and walked on to the crossing.

Network Rail faces two charges under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and one charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Image caption The girls were killed at Elsenham railway station in December 2005

Ian Prosser, director of railway safety at ORR, said: "After careful consideration and examination of Network Rail documents not previously seen by ORR, we have concluded that there is enough evidence, and that it is in the public interest, to bring criminal proceedings against Network Rail."

The chief executive of Network Rail, David Higgins, said in a statement: "Since this accident in 2005 we have launched a major programme to update the assessments of all our 7,000 plus crossings, improving risk management and safety, and we have closed more than 500 crossing since 2009.

"When it comes to safety we will never be complacent and we continue to work alongside local communities and all the relevant authorities and other stakeholders to make our level crossings safer still."

Olivia's father Chris said: "We are pleased that ORR has decided to take action.

"None of this will bring back Liv or Charlie but, hopefully, other families will not have to go through what we have."

The first hearing is due to take place at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on 31 January 2012.

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