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Programme highlights Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 15:17 GMT
Train crash kills 13
A GNER train collided with a goods train in Yorkshire
Thirteen people are known to have died in today's crash

Thirteen passengers have died in a high speed train crash on the east coast main-line near Selby in Yorkshire: dozens more have been hurt, some seriously.

A Landrover towing a low-loader slid from the M62 motorway onto the track, derailing an intercity passenger train into the path of a freight train.

It is believed the combined speeds of the two trains were about 200 miles an hour, one of the highest speed train crashes ever. The crash was certainly the worst rail crash since the Ladbroke Grove disaster in October 1999.

The accident

The disaster occurred about 6:15 this morning. It is thought that a Landrover, which was towing a trailer carrying another car, left the motorway beside a bridge over the railway line and slid down an embankment onto the line.

All survivors are thought to have been removed from the train
Rescue workers search for survivors

The driver of the car escaped with slight whiplash and immediately called the emergency services.

As he was on the phone to the British Transport Police, he saw a train approaching but was helpless to stop it.

The 04:45 GNER train from Newcastle to London's Kings Cross station is thought to have attempted to brake, but its speed of around 125 miles per hour prevented it from avoiding collision with the vehicles on the track.

The passenger train became derailed and continued to move forward at high speed.

It did remain upright, but then collided with a goods train moving in the opposite direction, carrying coal from the Port of Immingham to the power station at Ferrybridge.

All twelve carriages were derailed and one ended up more than fifty yards away in a field by a small hamlet called Great Heck.

Casualties

Thirteen people are known to have died in the collision, with over thirty others being taken to hospital, some with life-threatening injuries. The injured are suffering from chest, leg, neck and head injuries, with some taken straight into surgery in local hospitals, which were rapidly implementing their major emergency policies.

RAF helicopters flew some of the most severely injured to hospital. The driver of the GNER train was taken to hospital.

Rescue operation

For some time it seemed as though there might be survivors trapped in the wreckage, but at 11:45, the fire service confirmed that they were no longer expecting to find anyone else alive.


We have just got in a position now where we can say that if there is anyone (left inside), then they are not going to be alive

Dean McHugh

Dean McHugh, Divisional officer for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service, told the World at One that there was a possibility that the death toll could rise as the wreckage was inspected.

Causes

Already, questions are being asked about how the accident could have happened.

GNER's chief executive Christopher Garnett told The World at One that he couldn't understand how the vehicles could have got off the motorway and onto the track.

He stressed that the carriages had withstood an incredible impact, and that it was because of this that there were not more casualties.

This is the second time GNER has had a fatal accident in six months
Seventy people were injured

It was the collision with the freight train after the initial impact which caused the most damage to the passenger train, Mr Garnett said. He confirmed that it was only this week that speed restrictions had been lifted on the track around Heck after flooding damaged embankments.

Mr Garnett expressed his horror and distress at the accident and referred to the crash at Hatfield in 2000: "It is pretty devastating to have this happen twice in six months...when neither occasion is our fault".

Reaction

The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott arrived at the scene of the Selby train crash at lunchtime and expressed his sympathy for the relatives and friends of the dead and those who were injured.


Our thoughts at the moment must clearly be with those who were injured and the relatives of those who have died

John Prescott

He has asked the Health and Safety Executive to prepare a "quick and interim" report on the Selby train crash.

The Queen asked for her "deepest sympathy" to be passed to the victims of the crash.

Today's disaster comes after a terrible 18 months for Britain's rail network. But this time - unlike Hatfield and Ladbroke Grove - it does not seem to raise further questions about the running of the railways.

It was - in the words of one rail expert - a road traffic accident with terrible consequences: thirteen dead, and dozens more injured.

The World at One's reporter Chris Hogg monitored events throughout this morning - you can hear his report by clicking on the audio link on the left of the page.


An emergency number has been released for people worried about friends and relatives who might have been involved in the crash: 020 7834 7777.


 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Christopher Garnett, Chief Executive of GNER
"This is devastating"
Audio
Click here to listen to Chris Hogg's report on the crash
Links to more Programme highlights stories are at the foot of the page.


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