Man hit by train forced to pay for rail delays

Polands state railway PKP is claiming compensation from a man who caused delays to its services by being run over by a train – but said it may forgive the debt after learning the mans house had burned down.

“We are acting in accordance with article 415 of the Civil Code, seeking damages from a person who caused delays in rail traffic,” PKP spokesman Krzysztof Lancucki said on Monday.

He said 19-year-old Pawel Banaszek, who was paralysed in the incident in August 2003, caused 2,058 zlotys (320 pounds) worth of losses due to delays.

Half the amount was written off and Banaszek was paying the rest in 80-zloty monthly instalments from his 600-zloty disability pension. Lancucki said he had made three payments so far.

Earlier, Poland’s daily Gazeta Wyborcza reported that Banaszek’s house had recently burned down, and Lancucki told Reuters that PKP would most likely write off the remaining debt if Banaszek made a formal request.

Accounts of how Banaszek ended up lying on the tracks vary.

Wyborcza said he was beaten up in a bar fight in his home village of Stare Bosewo, central Poland, and left for dead on the rails, though a local prosecutor told Reuters there was no conclusive evidence a fight had taken place.

Wyborcza quoted Banaszek’s father as saying his son’s attackers had dragged him onto the tracks to try to fake a suicide.

But regional prosecutor Robert Strzeminski said: “We didn’t have any evidence of a beating … so we had to treat it as a simple train accident.”

Lancucki said it was not the railway’s responsibility to determine how Banaszek got onto the rails.

“We are the guardians of public property, not a charitable institution, and we have an obligation to seek compensation in the name of the taxpayers,” Lancucki told Wyborcza.

“Mr Banaszek could have turned to a court, but he didn’t. He would lose, and the whole affair would cost (him) many times more.”