The widow of a rail worker, whose husband died in April 2007 when he was struck by a fast-moving train, has been awarded a substantial sum in compensation by Network Rail.

Charles Stockwell, then aged 50, was killed whilst welding a track as a train approached the busy Ruscombe Junction in Berkshire. Because of the job he was doing, Mr Stockwell could not see or hear the train coming.

The transport workers union, RMT, appointed Thompsons Solicitors to seek damages on Mrs Stockwell’s behalf. Andrew Hutson from Thompsons argued in a hearing that working in red zones, where trains are still running, is inherently unsafe.

“Clearly, it is very dangerous to work where trains are still passing, particularly at high speed, and the time available to get out of the way is minimal,” said Mr Hutson. “Network Rail has a responsibility to enforce proper standards and systems for the safety of their workers and regrettably in Mr Stockwell’s case, this failed.”

The safety of those repairing tracks must be paramount

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “This tragic case reinforces RMT’s continuing campaign for a safe working environment on Britain’s railways. Our thoughts are with Mrs Stockwell and Charles’ family and friends and we hope that the legacy of his totally unnecessary death will be a renewed focus on safe working practices out on Britain’s railways.”

“My husband always said it was a dangerous job and that things needed to change, yet Network Rail always insisted that safety was their number one priority. Despite this, Charles died doing the job he enjoyed, and I am still left wondering how it could have happened,” said Mrs Stockwell, who lives in Tilehurst. “My husband’s death has affected the whole family, and it’s something we’ll never get over. When Charles died I lost a part of my life.”

“Our aim in bringing this case is to help ensure other rail workers are not placed in such danger,” said Andrew Hutson. “Network Rail’s systems must be improved and we would like to see an end to red zone working. The safety of those repairing tracks must be paramount.”