Belfast Telegraph

Translink pays out £2,000 a day in compensation claims

By Adrian Rutherford

The company in charge of Northern Ireland's public transport system is shelling out on average over £2,000 every day to compensate people injured by accidents involving its vehicles.

In the past year 330 successful claims have been made against Translink.

They were among thousands of cases settled in a five-year period, which have resulted in the company handing over £4.3m to injured people.

The huge compensation bill, disclosed to the Belfast Telegraph following Freedom of Information requests, comes after a spate of high-profile accidents involving Translink's fleet.

Last August a double decker bus overturned outside Central Station in Belfast, injuring dozens of people.

And last week two women miraculously escaped serious injury when a bus slammed into a shelter near Belfast city centre.

Jimmy Spratt, who chairs the Assembly committee which oversees transport matters, expressed concern at the huge bill.

"The high number of claims - to the extent where there is almost one a day - is concerning," he said.

"Inevitably accidents will occur, but this seems a very large compensation bill. It is vital that Translink work more proactively to try and dramatically reduce the number of these claims."

According to documents, Translink paid out £4,388,000 after 1,675 cases were successfully taken between 2006/07 and 2010/11.

Some 1,586 of those related to motor claims while the remaining 89 covered public liability incidents.

Translink was asked to provide details of the reasons for each claim. However, the information was withheld because the company argued it could breach the confidentiality of individuals involved.

These figures do not include the most recent accidents, such as the crash near Central Station on August 14 last year when 31 people were injured.

Twenty-six of these people made personal injury claims.

Last Wednesday two women were injured when a bus smashed into a shelter at Queen Street.

The vehicle was trying to swing into the bus stop around another bus, mounting the kerb and ripping the shelter from the ground.

A Translink spokesperson said that while bus and rail travel is very safe, the company was "not complacent and works hard to maintain its good safety record". She said: "Claims arise and are paid for many different reasons and we are very active in keeping their cost to a minimum".

"The number of claims is very small in the context of the scale of our operations. We also reduce costly claims by prosecuting fraudulent claimants.

"On average our buses travel 43m miles in a year and our trains cover 2.9m miles annually, which we record is close to 80m passenger journeys each year."

She added that Translink was committed to safety and training.

Factfile

Translink payouts:

2006/07: 329 cases, £853,000

2007/08: 280 cases, £658,000

2008/09: 336 cases, £1,142,000

2009/10: 400 cases, £896,000

2010/11: 330 cases, £839,000

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