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Last Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006, 11:34 GMT
Survivor of Tebay recalls tragedy
By Chris Stewart
Chief Reporter BBC TV North East & Cumbria

Tom Angus
The team had been replacing a section of rail
A survivor of the Tebay tragedy has told the BBC of the moment the runaway trailer came out of the dark without warning to kill four of his workmates.

Tom Angus, who lives in Carnforth, Lancashire, has been a railway worker for 35 years.

"We just heard a 'shhhhhhhhhhhhh' and I just looked at the lads", he said.

"I saw this black object passing me. I didn't know at the time it was a trailer with rails on. It just seemed black....travelling.

"It just killed the lads. I was only feet from it."

The working gang had been sent to Tebay to replace a section of rail and among Mr Angus' workmates to die was 30-year-old Darren Burgess, also of Carnforth.

Tebay scene
Mr Angus said the trailer came past without warning

Darren was the son of one of Mr Angus' oldest friends, Tom Burgess - who is also a railway worker.

"It's like a family", said Mr Angus. "I worked with Tom for 20-odd years and then I worked with his son.

"We'll never get over it. The quality of our railway life has gone. After the accident, we've all tended to keep together, telephoning each other and encouraging one another, and that still goes on today.

"We're not back on the main line yet. Our trust has gone. There are a lot of questions that have to be dealt with, and until they're resolved, we won't be going back."

Like Mr Burgess, he believes the accident would not have happened in the days of British Rail, saying the industry was more safety-conscious then.

'Inquiry needed'

The involvement of private contractors means the chain of responsibility can be broken, he said.

Mr Burgess is also critical of the way "possessions" take place - a possession is the process by which stretches of line are closed down for maintenance work.

"There has to be an inquiry into this", he said.

"And we need better possessions. The distances of these possessions are too long. They should be shorter.

"Under British Rail, we would have looked after everything ourselves. We need to get back to those things."

Hear from Tom Angus and the father of one of the victims

Memorial service for Tebay dead
15 Feb 05 |  Cumbria

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