The families of the two Network Rail workers killed near Port Talbot appointed Hugh James just after the incident to help them in their quest for answers, as they prepare to “campaign hard” to ensure lessons are learned.
Gareth Delbridge, 64, from Kenfig Hill and Michael Lewis, 58, from North Cornelly, had been carrying out engineering work on live tracks between Port Talbot and Bridgend when they were struck by a high-speed train travelling from Swansea to London on 3rd July 2019.
Initial findings suggested that the men had been using a tool with a petrol engine and were wearing ear defenders, which meant they may have not heard the train approaching. Three official investigations have been launched into the incident: by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), which investigates the cause of accidents to improve rail safety; by the regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR); and the criminal investigation by the British Transport Police.
Adrian Grant, son-in-law of Gareth Delbridge, speaking today on behalf of the families of Mr Delbridge and Mr Lewis, explained that they wanted to “ensure no stone was left unturned” and had enlisted the help of specialist legal advice to help them navigate the complexities of the three official investigations into the events of that day. Adrian said:
“Our families are working with the official investigative authorities to find out exactly what happened the day Gareth and Michael died, and we will make sure we understand every element so that justice is done for the boys and so that nothing like this can ever happen again.
“These investigations are closely considering all the available evidence, with the aim of piecing together an accurate and factual timeline of events, with their findings due to publish in the months ahead.
“We want to leave no stone unturned in understanding exactly why our boys went to work one day and never came home, leaving a gaping hole in our lives as well as in the communities that loved and respected them so much.
“As well as trying to deal with our grief, we find ourselves in the middle of three very important, official investigations. We are learning quickly as we go, but this is unfamiliar and complicated and it helps to have Hugh James on board so we know that we are doing the best by Gareth and Michael.
“We are determined to understand exactly what happened that day and are prepared to campaign hard so that no other lives are needlessly lost or endangered by unsafe working practices on the railways and no other family goes through this. We feel that with legal advice, we stand a better chance of making sure lessons are learned.
“We owe it to them, their colleagues, and railway workers all over the country to make sure this can never happen again.”
Iain Scott, solicitor at Hugh James who is representing the families, said:
“Hugh James is working with the families to initiate a civil claim to prove that Network Rail was negligent in its duty of care as an employer.
“Whilst the early signs are encouraging we very much hope that the three official investigations will be painstaking in their examination of the facts and circumstances of the accident so that in the fullness of time, a truthful and accurate picture of what happened will emerge and from which lessons will be learned “.
“Gareth and Michael’s families deserve the peace of mind that absolutely everything is being done to find out what happened, and for justice to be served. This type of incident has no place in the age we live in, and we’ll support the families at every step to make sure it never happens again.”