Bus driver responsible for crash onto train tracks at Galashiels fined £600 but spared ban

A driver responsible for a crashing a bus onto train tracks and bringing the Borders Railway to a standstill for hours has been spared a ban.

By Court Reporter
Monday, 17th February 2020, 11:49 am
Updated Monday, 17th February 2020, 12:03 pm
The bus Mark Woodcock crashed near Galashiels railway station.
The bus Mark Woodcock crashed near Galashiels railway station.

Mark Woodcock, 48, claimed his foot got stuck on the bus’s accelerator, causing him to fail to negotiate a roundabout and instead career through an Armco crash barrier and fence, then plunge down an embankment before coming to rest on track ballast near Galashiels station.

That accident – on the evening of Sunday, December 8 – led to all trains between Edinburgh and Tweedbank being cancelled for the remainder of the night and into the following morning.

Woodcock pleaded guilty at Selkirk Justice of the Peace Court to careless driving and was fined £600 and had his licence endorsed with seven penalty points.

Bus driver Mark Woodcock.

The court heard he had driven a Peter Hogg-owned bus from Hawick to Galashiels for a bingo session and had gone to refuel ready to pick up his passengers for the return journey at around 8.30pm.

After coming down a hill and negotiating a roundabout, he tried to turn into Ladhope Vale but failed and went off the road.

Depute fiscal Fiona Hamilton said: “For no apparent reason, he does not turn into Ladhope Vale but strikes a kerb and goes through an Armco crash barrier and a fence and down an embankment.

“The bus came to rest on its wheels on the track ballast.

“It rendered it impassable for other trains until the bus was removed.”

The court was told that road conditions were very wet on the night.

Woodcock explained that his foot had got stuck on the accelerator, causing the bus to speed up and he was unable to brake in time.

JP Gary Watson said Woodcock had told the court he was trained to a high level but added that, on this occasion, the standard of his driving had fallen below what would be reasonably expected.

Mr Watson said he would have imposed a two-month discretionary disqualification but, due to Woodcock’s guilty plea, he reduced that to his licence being endorsed and took a third off what would have been a £900 fine.

He noted that Woodcock now has 11 penalty points on his licence so any further offence would result in a ban, telling him: “You are a very fortunate man.”

Woodcock, of Inchmyre in Kelso, was also ordered to pay a £40 victim surcharge.