Thursday 15 Aug 2019
Network Rail warns of the dangers of the railway as trespasser jailed after causing mass disruption
- Region & Route:
Network Rail is reminding the public of the dangers posed by trespassing on the railway after a man who climbed on top of a tunnel overlooking railway lines near St. Pancras International station, blocking trains between London, Kent and France, was jailed.
Terry Maher, aged 44, of Cubitt Street, clambered onto the tunnel, owned by Network Rail, with a St. George’s flag, power banks for his phone and warm clothing, and stayed in the extremely dangerous area for 13 hours.
His actions halted high-speed trains travelling to the south east and France, disrupting thousands of commutes and delaying holidays. In total, 88 trains were cancelled, and around 22,000 people were directly affected, delayed, inconvenienced or had to abandon their travel plans. International passengers, who were intending to travel on the Eurostar from St. Pancras, were stranded overnight in London. The cost of the disruption is estimated to be more than £1 million.
Maher was found guilty of malicious obstruction of the railway and was sentenced to one year in jail at Blackfriars Crown Court on Monday 12 August.
Network Rail, British Transport Police and the wider rail industry is currently running a summer-long nationwide campaign highlighting the dangers of trespass, which is targeting young people. The railway is full of both hidden and obvious dangers – the electricity is always turned on – and trespassers run the risk of serious life-changing injury or even death.
Allan Spence, Network Rail’s head of public and passenger safety, said: “Any act of trespass is not only incredibly dangerous to the individual involved, but also very disruptive to passengers who simply want to get home, to work, to hospital appointments or to meet friends and family.
“The court’s ruling reflects the seriousness of this man’s actions, and should serve as a warning to anyone tempted to trespass on the railway – even if they manage to avoid personal injury, they risk a long prison sentence.”
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Dean Percival said: “This has been described as the single most expensive incident in the history of high-speed railway in Britain.
“However, not only did it cost the rail industry, it also cost thousands of commuters and holiday-makers their time, significantly delaying their journeys and leaving them stranded at stations desperate for the situation to be resolved.
“Maher’s selfish actions profoundly impacted the day to day lives of the public; that impact is what he was brought to court to answer for.”
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About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.