Archive for October, 2010

On the Inside Track?

Giving judgement in the cases of Network Rail Infrastructure Limited v Conarken Group Limited and v Farrell Transport Limited, heard together in the Technology and Construction Court in July 2010 ([2010] EWHC  1852 (TCC)), Mr Justice Akenhead stated “Every year, there are in Great Britain a significant number of road accidents on bridges over and under railways and on railway crossings.  In 2008-9, the Court was told that there were 1365 such incidents on bridges affecting railway services and a significant number of other incidents on level crossings.”  These numbers are alarming.

Both cases concerned heavy goods vehicular accidents which led to physical damage to a bridge over a railway line and to electrical equipment at a level crossing.  In consequence of this damage, rail services were disrupted.  Network Rail faced paying very substantial sums of money to rail operating companies in relation to the periods during which tracks were unavailable by reason of the physical damage and subsequent remedial works.  The questions before the court related to the scope of the duty of care owed by negligent drivers and whether the sums paid by Network Rail were a foreseeable consequence of the negligence.

The judge held that the negligent drivers were liable to reimburse Network Rail for the sums it had paid to the operating companies.  This loss was not too remote and was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the drivers’ negligence.  The judge also considered Network Rail’s claims in nuisance and trespass against the drivers.  He held there was no material or practical difference in the measure of damages recoverable to that recoverable in negligence.

Legally, this case is of great importance in respect of claims for damages against negligent drivers.  But the case also reminds one of the severe complications that can arise from crossing over or under railway land or using or occupying land neighbouring, or previously used as, railway land.  There are so many rules and regulations which apply and it is almost impossible to fathom them all.  However, Luke Hedderwick and Keith Wallace, directors of Inside Track (Railway Solutions) Limited could assist you (  Hatherleigh Training proposes you consult them if problems arise.