HC Deb 19 November 1996 vol 285 c480W
Mr. Chidgey

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what compensation arrangements have been offered to the owners of property alongside the railway as a result of the railway accident at Stafford; and in what ways these arrangements differ from those which British Rail used to make in similar circumstances. [4503]

Mr. Watts

Compensation for property owners suffering loss as a result of any railway accident is a matter between them and whoever may be found liable for the accident. Claims will continue to be dealt with on the basis of liability.

There will be no disadvantage to those suffering injury or loss simply because there is no longer one railway operator. Arrangements have been in place from 1 April 1994 for third parties suffering injury and loss on the railways to claim against a single, industry-controlled, agency, Railway Claims Ltd., created for the purpose, rather than to identify and claim against one or more operators. These arrangements are supervised by the Rail Regulator, who requires all licensed rail operators, which include Railtrack, to join these claims handling and allocation arrangements, and to maintain adequate insurance.

In the case of the Stafford accident, however, a privately owned freight wagon was involved. Private wagon owners are not licensed operators of trains and therefore cannot be obliged by the Rail Regulator to be part of the claims allocation and handling arrangements. However, that is no different from the situation before restructuring, when such owners, which have never been part of British Rail, were accountable for their own actions.