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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Death toll rises on railways
Queen Street Station
One death occurred at Queen Street Station
The number of deaths on Scotland's railways has risen again, according to new figures.

A report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Railways shows that 27 people died on the country's railways in the past year compared to 25 in 1999/2000.

But 25 of the deaths last year were attributed to trespassing and suicides.

The two other deaths occurred when a pedestrian was struck by a train at a level crossing in Aberdeenshire, and when a passenger fell down stairs at Glasgow's Queen Street Station.

Train derailment
Train derailments rose again

Despite a number of high-profile campaigns in recent years to improve railway safety the number of deaths has continued to rise.

This is a trend which worries Gerald Kerr, the Health and Safety Executive's principal inspector of railways in Scotland.

He said: "There are people needlessly losing their lives on Scotland's railways. These people are taking a shortcut to death.

"It is frustrating that people are being killed on railway lines when there is no need for them to be on the track at all."

Of the 27 deaths on Scotland's railways last year, 13 people died trespassing while 12 were suicides.

Train derailments

Statistics within the report also showed that train derailments rose from six to 16 during the same period while fires started by vandals rose from 11 to 38.

Of the 16 derailments, six involved passenger trains and 10 involved goods trains.

The most serious incident occurred at Glenwhilly, Dumfries and Galloway, when a passenger train derailed after prolonged rain caused a landslip.

Six passengers and two members of staff were taken to hospital with injuries.

Eddie Toal
Eddie Toal: "Railways are safe"

But the HSE said most of the derailments were of a minor nature.

Mr Kerr said around half were the result of human error and around a quarter could be blamed on the condition of the track.

The report also said that the number of signals passed at danger (SPADS) fell from 54 in 1999/2000 to 46 - a three-year low.

Scotland's main rail operator, ScotRail welcomed the fall.

Spokesman Eddie Toal said: "One SPAD is one too many. But the railway system in Scotland is safe and it will continue to be safe.

"The last fatality in Scotland as a result of two trains colliding happened in 1994. Since then, ScotRail has carried 62 million passengers a year."

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Louise Batchelor reports
"There were 27 deaths on Scotland's railways last year"
See also:

10 Aug 01 | Scotland
Railways 'under siege from vandals'
09 Aug 01 | Scotland
Award offered to catch train vandals
27 Jul 01 | Scotland
Safety checks on new trains
24 Jul 01 | Scotland
Passengers hurt in train accident
24 Jul 01 | Business
Crash families stage Railtrack demo
29 Jun 01 | Scotland
Rail firm defends safety record
05 Mar 01 | Scotland
ScotRail attacked over 'fire' panic
11 Dec 00 | Scotland
Flagship trains add to rail woes
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