A UNION has called for tougher corporate manslaughter charges after warning another disaster is waiting to happen on Scotland's railways three years after the Stonehaven rail disaster that caused the death of three people.

The calls come as the publicly funded Network Rail, the agency which is responsible for the upkeep of the infrastructure including tracks and signals, came under fire for not doing enough to learn lessons in the wake of the three-year-old tragedy.

The Herald has confirmed that according to the latest Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) analysis last month of 20 official recommendations for action made a year-and-a-half ago just two have been closed - meaning action has been taken to totally implement them. There was no recorded change in the number of closed actions since March.

It means that 18 remain - meaning they remain waiting for action to fully implement them.

Union leaders say there is now a push for tougher corporate manslaughter laws in the wake of the tragedy to prevent any repeat.

READ MORE: Stonehaven train crash: Union demands that Network Rail 'examine every mile" of Scots track to stop any repeat

There remains concerns that there have been no prosecutions for corporate homicide in Scotland since the introduction of the 2007 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (CMCHA).

Mick Hogg, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers' Scottish organiser said that Network Rail's response to the tragedy was a "scandal" saying that it "lacked responsibility" and that there has been a push for tougher sanctions for future cases with corporate manslaughter having to be an option.

Driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62, died when the 06:38 high speed Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street train left the tracks after hitting washed-out landslide debris near Carmont during heavy rainfall in August 2020. Six other people were injured.

The Herald: NoneNone (Image: None)

They were the only nine people on the train due to pandemic restrictions.

On Thursday, Network Rail pleaded guilty to criminal charges at the High Court in Aberdeen.

Network Rail admitted failing to impose a speed restriction, warn the driver that part of the track was unsafe, or ask him to reduce his speed.

It also admitted a number of failures over the maintenance and inspection of drainage in the area, and in adverse and extreme weather planning.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice KC, prosecuting, said the derailment happened after a period of extreme torrential rainfall which had led both Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council to declare a major emergency.

He said the weather on the day of the accident was "exceptional", with the Aberdeen station controller describing the rain as "beyond biblical".

In the wake of the tragedy a series of deadly management failings were blamed by accident investigators.

The RAIB found that the train derailed because it struck debris that had been washed out of a faulty drainage system constructed between 2011 and 2012 by failed outsourcing giant Carillion.

Both Network Rail and the designers of the drain were unaware that Carillion did not build it to specification and so were not able to safely accommodate the water flows that morning.

They found the control team was under severe workload pressure around time of the crash due to volume of weather-related events. But no additional staff were called in to help - even though plans existed to help with such issues through the senior management ‘gold command’ structure.

Investigators found that the drainage works were not entered into Network Rail’s infrastructure maintenance database so it was never inspected or maintained after installation.

The Herald:

The RAIB’s investigation also found that the route controllers, who were responsible for the operational management of Scotland’s railway network, had not been given the information, procedures or training that they needed to effectively manage complex situations of the type encountered on the morning.

Mr Hogg said that there was a push for the law to be "toughened up" so that companies responsible for such disasters can be charged with corporate manslaughter with tougher penalties imposed.

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association has said that prosecutors should have been able to consider whether corporate manslaughter charges were appropriate.

The 2007 Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act (CMCHA) was introduced in response to a number of large-scale disasters, including the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster and the prosecution of utility firm Transco which was fined £15m - a then UK record - after being convicted for breaching health and safety laws from an explosion in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire which killed four people in December 1999.

The blast, caused by a leaking gas main, destroyed the home, leading to the deaths of Andrew and Janette Findlay and their children Stacey, 13, and Daryl, 11.

Mr Hogg said: "We think Network Rail will get nothing more than the equivalent of a fine.

"It would seem to me that Network Rail are not listening in any way, shape or form.

"The safety of Scotland's trains is abysmal. "There were 20 recommendations and only two have been addressed, so the vast majority are not. It is fair to say what happened in August, 2020 can happen again.

"It is a scandal. There is nobody more vociferous than us and the train drivers union Aslef over the lack of responsibility for what happened at Carmont.

"We have nothing to thank the pandemic for, but if it wasn't for that on that day there would have been hundreds of people on that train and we wouldn't have been looking at three deaths, we would have been looking at hundreds of deaths."

RMT union chiefs in Scotland have previously raised serious concerns over plans to slash the safety-critical maintenance workforce in Scotland from nearly 2000. They have been concerned that 300 Scots maintenance staff with Scottish and UK government-subsidised Network Rail will go amidst vacancies.

Network Rail has been looking to slash existing maintenance scheduled tasks by up to 50% through what it calls "better use of technology and data", and reducing the number of manual inspections carried out by teams.

The Herald: Stonehaven crash scene

It suggested that it would significantly reduce the safety risk to maintenance staff who have to access the railway infrastructure to undertake these inspections.

The RAIB probe into the crash found that that the management processes of Network Rail had not identified or addressed weaknesses in the way it dealt with the consequences of extreme rainfall events.

Despite an awareness of the risk, the RAIB said Network Rail had not completed the implementation of additional control measures following previous events or clearly identified potential areas of weakness Network Rail and RAIB concerns were heightened by a landslip just outside the portal of tunnel in Watford, Hertfordshire, in September 2016 that caused the derailment of a train.

They said railway managers should address the "obstacles" to effective implementation of lessons learnt from the investigation of accidents and incidents.

The investigators made 20 recommendations for the improvement of rail safety in the wake of the Stonehaven crash. Among them was a call for improved operational response to extreme rainfall events, exploiting the full capability of modern technology.

They also included better management of civil engineering projects and better understanding of the additional risk associated with older trains.

The Office of Rail and Road regulator has said that it was continuing to "work closely with Network Rail and the RSSB [Rail Safety and Standards Board] on the delivery of the recommendations".

A Network Rail spokesman said: “The Carmont derailment and the tragic loss of Christopher Stuchbury, Donald Dinnie and Brett McCullough was a terrible day for our railway and our thoughts remain with their families and all those affected by the accident.

“While we cannot comment on the ongoing legal process, it is clear that there were fundamental lessons to be learnt by Network Rail. Since August 2020, we have been working hard to make our railway safer for our passengers and colleagues.”