The government plans to prosecute British Rail on criminal charges for a train wreck in south London that killed 35 people two years ago, officials said.
Allan Green, director of public prosecutions, decided in May that there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against the state-owned rail line or any of its employees.But Tuesday, the Department of Transport said the board that runs the network was being served summonses under the Health and Safety Act that allege it criminally failed to take all practical steps to ensure safety.
On Dec. 12, 1988, an express train on its way to central London from southern England crashed into the back of a stationary train at Clapham in south London. The driver of the stationary train had stopped to report a faulty signal. In addition to those killed, about 500 people were injured.
One summons alleges that by failing to provide effective signaling, British Rail did not ensure the safety of its employees.
The Battersea Magistrates Court in southwest London will meet Jan. 7 to decide if there is enough evidence to warrant trial.
Lawyer Sir Anthony Hidden found during a public inquiry last year that while rewiring signals in the area, a technician had failed to cut back a small piece of old wire.
This interfered with new wiring, causing the signal to flick from green to red and back again.
In September, an inquest jury ruled the 35 were unlawfully killed.
British Rail has admitted civil responsibility and has paid out nearly $2 million in compensation in 300 cases so far.