25/11/2011 04:19 GMT | Updated 25/11/2011 05:08 GMT

Network Rail To Be Prosecuted Over Deaths Of Olivia Bazlinton And Charlotte Thompson

Network Rail (NR) is to be prosecuted over the level crossing deaths of two teenage girls in 2005, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has announced.

The ORR said it had started criminal proceedings against NR for breaches of health and safety law which led to the deaths of the girls - Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13 - at Elsenham station crossing in Essex in December 2005.

The first hearing is due to take place at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court in Essex on January 31.

On December 3 2005, the girls used Elsenham station footpath crossing (owned and operated by NR) to reach the station platform. The station's footpath crossing was fitted with warning lights and yodel alarms.

A London to Cambridge train passed over the crossing with the red lights and yodel sounding - a warning for foot passengers not to cross the footpath crossing. After the train passed, the lights remained on and the alarms continued to sound as another train, travelling to Stansted airport in Essex, was going to pass through the station.

The girls opened the wicket gates and walked on to the crossing. They were both struck by the Stansted train and killed.

The ORR said NR faced two charges under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and one charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The ORR said: "These result from NR's failure to carry out proper assessments of the risks to the safety of members of the public using the footpath crossing or to have in place adequate arrangements to underpin these assessments."

The prosecution follows the conclusion of ORR's reopened investigation into the deaths of the girls. The investigation, which was originally closed in May 2007, was reopened by ORR in February when a further NR document was brought to ORR's attention.

ORR's railway safety director Ian Prosser said: "After careful consideration and examination of Network Rail documents not previously seen by ORR, we have concluded that there is enough evidence, and that it is in the public interest, to bring criminal proceedings against NR for serious breaches of health and safety law which led to the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson at Elsenham station footpath crossing in December 2005."