Just read that Network Rail and Jarvis are to be prosecuted for the Potters Bar rail crash in 2002. As a signalling professional, I guess I should stick my two penn'rth in...
At the time of the crash, I had been working on the railway for nearly a year. I remember making emergency checks on the points in my area, even though we knew there was no possibility of something like that happening to us. Knowing points as I now do, it's obvious that there was a failure of maintenance on the set of points in question - after proper maintenance, carried out every six weeks maximum, there should be no way that any nuts should come loose on a stretcher bar.
Faulting and maintenance in those days was carried out by private companies - Jarvis in the case of the Potters Bar section, Balfour Beatty in my area. There was no contact between maintenance companies, and only limited contact, I felt, with Network Rail above us. Network Rail had only recently come into existence, and the situation was such that there was little or no co-ordination across the industry.
I don't really want to comment on the rights and wrongs of the investigation - obviously the length of time that it's taken to get to this stage for the families of the deceased is unacceptable, and there is a need for private companies to be taken to task for accidents that happen on their watch, regardless of how much blame is to be apportioned.
What I consider most, though, is how the signalling and P-way staff who were responsible for 2182A's must feel, both at the time and now. According to Jarvis, the points were inspected the day before the accident. It must be a hell of a burden to bear, knowing that 7 people died, as a result of a failure of a set of points you inspected.
Rail professionals, like myself, take on a lot of responsibility for public safety, often with little public recognition. I don't know how I would be able to handle thinking that I had been to blame for someone's death.