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At last Network Rail bosses put lives before bonuses

It sounds like an admission that boardroom bonuses cost lives. Network Rail announced today that directors would forego this year’s bonus pool of £20 million and allocated the money to safety improvements at level crossings (Telegraph).

Everyone living in East Anglia, where there is a seemingly constant stream of accidents at crossings, knows that the campaign for safety improvements has been going on for years.

I trust none of the bonus money will be used to pay the fines of up to £1m expected after network rail admitted breaches of the Health and Safety Act for an incident in which two teenage girls died.

Basildon magistrates heard last week (Daily Mirror) that deficiencies in the way Network Rail had gone about risk assessment resulted in the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton (14) and Charlotte Thompson (13) at Elsingham in 2005. A risk assessment from four years before the deaths had been lost, the court heard.

A few days before the case was heard another teenage girl, Katie Littlewood (15) died at a level crossing at Bishop’s Stortford (BBC), less than six miles from Elsingham.

If the directors of Network Rail had put safety before bonuses earlier, Katie might still be alive.

Maybe, company directors are coming to realise the public revulsion at bonuses for simply doing their jobs.

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