NETWORK Rail has failed in an Appeal Court bid to reduce a £667,666 fine imposed after two railwaymen were struck and killed by a "JCB on rails".

David Pennington, 45, a father-of-five from Cog Lane, Burnley and Martin Oates, 38, from Sheffield, were doing maintenance work when they were killed by the vehicle on the Trent Valley Line, near Cannock, Staffordshire, on September 22, 2004.

They lost their lives when the vehicle, described in court as a "JCB on rails", reversed into them at high speed as they worked on the track at around 4.30am.

Network Rail Infracture was hit with the fine, and a £50,000 costs order, for breaches of health and safety at work rules at Stafford Crown Court in October last year.

Maintenance contractors, Carillion Construction Ltd, received a £444,444 fine and a £50,000 costs bill Today Network Rail asked Lord Justice Hooper, Mr Justice Andrew Smith and Mr Justice Irwin, sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court, to reduce the fine.

The company's lawyers argued its culpability for the accident had been "mis-assessed in relation to that of others" and that the overall fine was over the top.

But, refusing the appeal, Lord Justice Hooper concluded: "This is a case where the failures were significant and the consequences were the deaths of two workers.

"The sentence was severe but not so severe that we should reduce it on appeal."