UK Network Rail Blamed in Death of Two Horses After Pasture Gate Left Open

Posted by Paige Cerulli

After losing two horses to a horrific train accident, a family is blaming Network Rail for leaving the pasture fence open. 

It's hard to imagine the tragedy of losing two horses in one day, but that's just what one Yorkshire family is dealing with. Their horses, Tinkerbell and Tony, escaped their pasture and were hit by a passing train. The family says that Network Rail maintenance workers left the pasture fence open after traveling through it to perform maintenance.

Tinkerbell and Tony's pasture bordered the railway line. The Ashby family had allowed Network Rail workers to access the railway through the pasture's fence. However, Daryl Ashby, the father, asked workers to always make sure that the electric horse fence was closed every time they went through, ensuring the horses wouldn't escape.


But one day, the fence was knocked down and the horses escaped. Tinkerbell, a three-year-old pony owned by Daryl's daughter, Samantha, had wandered onto the tracks. Tinkerbell was hit by a train and was thrown back into the pasture about 40 feet, where he suffered from a cut artery and was ultimately euthanized.

Tony, a ten-year-old gelding that Samantha regularly rode, wasn't as easy to locate. It took five and a half hours to find the horse on a riverbank. Tony suffered a broken leg, hip, and pelvis, as well as a severe laceration, and was also euthanized.

Daryl Ashby called National Rail upon discovering the horses missing, but the rail service was not willing to close the line, despite the risk of the large animals being on the track.

A Network Rail spokesperson released the following statement to the Yorkshire Post:

"We work tirelessly to maintain the fences and boundaries on the 20,000 miles of track on our rail network but on rare occasions animals which are kept in nearby fields can break through fences and escape onto the tracks.

"At our last inspection (July 2016) the fence in question was intact and we received no information that the fence had become damaged prior to the reports from a train driver on Monday morning that he believed he had struck an animal. We understand this is a distressing incident and our sympathies go to all those affected by it.

"When we were made aware that a second horse was missing, all trains which run on the line were cautioned. This is the approved safety procedure we follow in circumstances such as this to protect everyone involved."

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UK Network Rail Blamed in Death of Two Horses After Pasture Gate Left Open