Published: 12:44, 26 May 2021
| Updated: 13:44, 26 May 2021
A father-of-two who lost his right arm after a horrific collision at work is calling for his employer to publicly accept responsibility and apologise so he can begin to rebuild his life.
Terry Currie, 45 from Maidstone, sustained life-changing injuries when a freight train collided with the petrol-powered buggy he was driving on a level crossing during a routine shift as a shunter driver for DB Cargo.
It happened in 2018 in Dollands Moor Freight Yard in Folkestone.
Mr Currie, who was due to get married to his fiancé Maxine shortly after the accident, attempted to jump clear of the vehicle to avoid the head-on crash but was dragged more than 20 metres following the collision.
At Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on March 22, the Doncaster-based company was fined £200,000 after an investigation by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) found the freight operator had failed to protect its workers, by not providing a safe means of crossing the train tracks.
The prosecution found that tunnels under the tracks had fallen into disrepair, with one closed and the other unusable due to failed lighting, so drivers were forced to cross the tracks at a level crossing, without proper signalling to alert them of oncoming trains.
Since the incident, Mr Currie has undergone intensive rehabilitation and will require serious care for the rest of his life, including specialist prosthetics which cost more than £100,000 to be fitted and maintained.
Mr Currie said: “My life will never be the same again following the accident. The last two years have been difficult to come to terms with and it’s not lost on me that I’m incredibly lucky to be alive.
“You don’t realise how much losing your arm affects the simple things, like playing with my kids, camping, cycling and football. I honestly can’t thank my fiancé Maxine, and our two young children enough for the strength and support they’ve given me since the accident.”
He added: “We were being asked to work in incredibly unsafe conditions for years and my accident could easily have been prevented.
"While DB Cargo have been supportive in terms of rehabilitation, they need to accept responsibility for the permanent damage its negligence has done to my life, and they should shoulder the full cost of my recovery.
An avid footballer, Mr Currie played in a local six-a-side league and is a keen cyclist in his spare time.
"... my accident could easily have been prevented."
Before joining DB Cargo, the UK’s biggest freight operator, he had more than five years experience within the rail industry working for contractors employed by Network Rail.
Lawyers representing Mr Currie say “systemic failings” lead to the horrendous incident which must be accounted for.
Trevor Sterling, Partner and Head of Major Trauma at the law firm Moore Barlow said: “The serious failings by DB Cargo and the lack of appropriate safety measures meant that an accident at this train yard was inevitable.
"Corners were severely cut, and this ultimately led to Terry’s horrific accident.
“DB Cargo must be held responsible for the awful consequences of their misconduct and can learn the lessons that will prevent it from happening again.
"But the failings of this one company shouldn’t be viewed in isolation.
"There is a systemic safety issue in the freight industry, government cutbacks mean under-resourced regulators can’t adequately oversee and enforce the appropriate standards.”
A spokesman for DB Cargo UK said: “The safety of our employees, other rail users and the general public is of paramount importance to DB Cargo UK.
“Although deeply regrettable, this was a unique and isolated incident and voluntary steps were immediately taken by the company to cease the use of all buggies at Dollands Moor.
“The relevant site risk assessments and safe systems of work have been reviewed and all operatives have received appropriate refresher training."