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A Merseyrail train driver has been convicted of endangering the safety of passengers at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court after being found to be sending a WhatsApp message prior to the crash.
Phillip Hollis, 56, was found to be sending the WhatsApp message 26 seconds before the crash, with his train approaching the buffer stops at 40mph.
The speed limit on approach to Kirkby station is 15 mph, and even with an emergency brake application, the train hit the buffers, causing the train to derail. The damage to the station has been estimated at around £450,000.
Twelve passengers and a guard were onboard and thankfully only suffered minor injuries.
Phillip originally told Police that his bag had fallen off a cupboard in the cab of the train and said he had stood up to retrieve it along with a Lucozade bottle before he sat down to see the buffers approaching.
However, when his phone was seized and examined, it was found that a WhatsApp message was sent at 6:51.34pm, 26 seconds before the crash.
He was reinterviewed and admitted his phone should have been turned off in the cab.
MerseyRail dismissed the driver back in September 2021. He is due to be sentenced at a later date.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve May said: “This was a complex investigation but we could be confident from our analysis that Hollis was using his phone in the seconds before crashing the train into Kirby station at high speed.
“I have no doubt this will have caused him to become distracted while driving, endangering the safety of the passengers and staff on board. It was only through sheer luck that they weren’t seriously injured or worse, killed, as a result of this incredibly dangerous incident.”
We have approached Merseyrail for a comment.
This article first appeared on www.railadvent.co.uk
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