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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 21:06 GMT 22:06 UK
Potters Bar train crash: Your reaction
At least eight people are reported dead after a passenger train travelling from London to Norfolk crashed at Potters Bar railway station in Hertfordshire.

Three of the train's four carriages derailed, and one of them fell onto its side, leaving passengers trapped inside.

It is believed that one of the carriages mounted the platform and became wedged under the station's roof.

Eyewitnesses reported that parts of the bridge at the station were also destroyed.

Here are a selection of your e-mails.



Yards before Potters Bar station there is a massive jolt in the track - maybe this is the cause

Jonathon Ray, England
I get the Kings cross to Kings Lynn train every day on the way home from work. (5:45) Yards before Potters Bar station there is a massive jolt in the track, which nearly throws you out of your seat if your at the end of a carriage. Maybe this is the cause. Very worrying.
Jonathon Ray, England

Like Jonathon Ray, I can certainly remember several occasions, sitting on trains on this route, having just been almost thrown off the track. Passengers look around at each other in disbelief. The trains have been getting faster, but the track on this route is not high-speed grade. Quite honestly I'd rather the trains were longer, slower and more reliable. The companies are clearly dangerously deluded. I guess the rail company will now blame Railtrack and vice versa. The Japanese have proved that safe railways are possible. It is intolerable that the same people continue to run the railway services.
Ed (a worried passenger), UK, Hertfordshire.

Tragic as it is, it should be seen in perspective. Statistically, 10 people will die on the roads today and every other day but road accidents rarely make even local news. The double tragedy of rail accidents which receive heavy publicity is that they distort the public's perception of rail safety and, through fear and added cost of rail travel, force more people onto the roads, putting the public at greater risk.
Ben Friman, UK

The trouble is we are getting used to this, so we are no longer as shocked as we should be. When will it finally sink in that privatisation does not lead to better and safer railways? This is government simply shunning their responsibilities in order to maintain low income tax and win elections. Surely people will start to realise that this is really a con.....
Phil Thompson, Teddington, UK

Let's not put this crash out of context. Of course it's awful that 5 more people have died on the railways, but thousands of people die on our roads each year and no-one bats an eyelid. Why is it that we have such a hypocritical attitude towards transport safety? Let's mourn the dead, investigate what happened, and remember that train travel is safe. After each rail crash we see people on the news saying that the railways are now unsafe and choose to drive instead - you're ten times more likely to be killed in an accident on the roads than on the rails.
Ian Bailey, UK


The UK government should commit itself to complete privatisation

Louise, Japan (UK ex-pat)
As I do some midnight surfing here in Japan I am appalled to hear about another rail derailment resulting in death and serious injury. It was only when I moved here that I realised how much I had become accustomed to cancelled trains and fatal accidents. The system here is remarkable to the British here. It's efficient, fast and although pricey it is, most importantly, safe. Most lines are privately run by large companies with other interests and it seems to work here. The UK government should commit itself to complete privatisation. It is after all bad business to let your customers die whilst using your service (unless you are in the tobacco industry).
Louise, Japan (UK ex-pat)

Doesn't the Government get it?! We're sick and tired of using their pathetic, out-of-date, dangerous, shambling, death traps. This is starting to turn into a game of Russian Roulette!
Frank Bradshaw, UK

Of course my thoughts are with the victims and families, but we really ought to give the HSE a chance to investigate the cause of the accident before immediately blaming Railtrack as so many of the comments above have done. Let's not forget as well a similar number of people die on the roads every day and don't make the headlines: rail remains by far the safest form of land transport.
James, UK

What a senseless waste of yet more lives on the British railways! Forget about the cost, think about the lives of the passengers, you can not put a price on a life.
Lissa, UK

"Every 9 months one of the trains on the 20 mile stretch of track you use will have a fatal crash. To use this line you must pay more per passenger mile than any other stretch of track in the country". Hardly encouraging is it... This besides the fact that we are forced to stand in carriages due to lack of space, while there are empty first class seats available and unused. Crowding being a safety issue in itself.
Mark Cary, U.K.

Is this another consequence of the conflict of interest between safety and profit? Time to renationalise? When will the air traffic, and nuke safety conflicts start to show up?
Charles, UK

Let's not forget that it was the greedy Tories under the even greedier Thatcher who are really responsible for the state of our railways
Maurice Anderson, UK


52 years of underinvestment cannot be fixed in a short space of time

Concerned, Yorkshire
The railways have been underfunded since the 1950s, and 52 years of underinvestment cannot be fixed in a short space of time. Also after successive incidents, the inquiries have all called for ATP, Automatic Train Protection, to be fitted to every train but, successive governments balk at the cost of this system. Also the train companies should be running the service as a public service and not a profit making machine.
Concerned, Yorkshire

How many more people need to die taking a train journey in the UK before something is done. When will the government and the rail industry stop putting profit before people's lives? Stop talking and do something about it!
Chris Gawor, UK

It was only hours ago on BBC Question Time that a Labour Environment Minister was brushing the Byers 'misunderstanding' issue aside by stating that the public should judge him on his job performance not on the Sixsmith affair. Byers had already lost all credibility, and today his failures on public transport has cost more tragic loss of life with no end in sight. Formal inquiries over previous rail accidents have produced no noticeable improvement. There is no trust in the governments handling of public transport (London Underground, Railtrack, Air Traffic Control) especially when the public can no longer trust the minister in charge to tell the truth.
Michael Cass, UK

I was travelling on this route yesterday and vividly remember a large jolt in the train just before Potters Bar. So strong that I dropped my newspaper and looked up at many worried faces thinking we had skipped the track. Surely someone (at least a driver on that route) would have reported that yesterday. Or are they just used to heavy jolts on poor quality track ? No excuses now, sort these railways out once an for all.
Derek Gallacher, England


I heard this enormous crash and suddenly there was dust and rubble up in the air

Nikita Coleman, England
I was in Sainsbury's Car Park adjacent to the railway, I was getting in to my car when I saw the train come in from London, I heard this enormous crash and suddenly there was dust and rubble up in the air. Driving back I saw that the bridge had bits hanging off and there were paramedics near the bridge tending to someone. The police, ambulances services and Fire were very quick on the scene and cordoned off the road. Everyone at my workplace in Potters Bar are shocked as many of them live in or near Potters Bar and our thoughts are with the family of the dead and injured and we are praying the others get out in time.
Nikita Coleman, England

At least 3 people died. I should be shocked, but I'm not. Unfortunately, I'm starting to see this as a regular feature of UK news.
Stewart, UK

As a regular traveller by rail who was recently involved in a Midland Mainline train crash (didn't make the news), where the train hit an oak tree, all I can say is this comes as no surprise to the travelling public. My sympathies and thoughts are with all those involved.
Greg Simpson, England

A sign of what could get worse if we don't push for greater investment into the British rail network.
Mark Jones, UK

The time has come to re-nationalise the railways and fix this chaotic, shambolic safety time bomb!
Charles McKean, UK


The train shuddered and seemed to catapult

Jane McDonald, UK
I was in the last carriage. The train shuddered and seemed to catapult. It was very scary. People were very calm.
Jane McDonald, UK

I heard about the accident on the news, my thoughts and prayers are with those who are injured and thier families.
Lisa Bennett, UK

It makes me ashamed to work in the Railway Industry.
Steve, UK


I saw one of the carriages lift in the air and then in a matter of seconds the bridge started to go

Rob Dudley, England
I was walking towards Barclays bank when I heard an almighty bang. I looked to my left and saw one of the carriages lift in the air and then in a matter of seconds the bridge started to go, I was about 300 yards away. The police and ambulance service were very quick to the scene and the Darkes Lane area of Potters Bar has been closed off to vehicles.
Rob Dudley, England

My office is 20m from the station. Minutes before 1pm we heard a loud noise, ran outside and we could see smoke and dust coming from the bridge over Darkes Lane. We went towards the bridge and we saw a person trapped under debris from the bridge and 3 cars plus a dustman lorry trapped under the bridge badly damaged. On the station platform we saw a carriage at 90 degrees across the track wedged between the platform no.1 and the reinforced concrete roof over the platform. The carriage is slightly tilted on one side and must span between platforms 1 and 3. There are another three carriages on the track no. 1. Please avoid the area to facilitate the rescue operation.
Luciano Capaldo, UK


We heard a huge bang and when we looked out the window saw billowing smoke

Julian Craddock, UK
I work on manor road just behind Potters Bar station. We heard a huge bang and when we looked out the window saw billowing smoke coming from the rail station. Next was the sound of sirens and a scene of total chaos. We cannot believe this can happen so close to the last accident. All our thoughts are with those that could be hurt.
Julian Craddock, UK

Living 100 metres away from the accident, I am sure that when I get home I will feel the impact of exactly what has happened. However, all my colleagues and my thoughts are with those that have died and are critically injured, and their families.
James Drakeford, England

As the train passed the building, it appeared to be travelling at great speed and left a plume of dust behind it. There were also arcs of electricity visible from my window on the 7th floor, that carried enough charge to momentarily disrupt the monitors. The end carriage has been left imbedded in the platform, lying across all four tracks. There are numerous people lying on the tracks covered in blankets and I expect further more, in the carriage itself. The emergency services were there in impressively quick time and appear to have the situation under control. Back up the track, there is a hive of activity around one of the points, suggesting that the cause for the derailment lies there.
Paul Lipscombe, UK

I would urge people not to jump to conclusions about the cause of this latest rail accident - let's wait for an official verdict before once again slaughtering Railtrack.
Bren, UK

This happens less than 24 hours after a documentary about how poor the rail services are in this country was shown. How many more lives do we have to lose until something is done? My sympathies go out to those involved and those who are left behind.
Lori, England


How long before I find out that my wife and child are involved in yet another incident?

Dom, UK
My wife and child take the Potters Bar route into work three days a week. There have been two serious crashes on this line in the last two years. How long before I find out that my wife and child are involved in yet another incident? Considering the amount we have to pay to travel on this train line, surely safety should be seen as an optional extra. In addition, German locomotive firms have to 'distress' (for distress read damage) railway tracks to simulate British railway conditions when testing. The whole situation is utterly scandalous.
Dom, UK

I'm simply appalled. It's one of the two major train lines running through the area I live. I've been a passenger involved in a crash on one (Thameslink) and the other seems to be killing passengers on a regular basis. How do you measure the damage to communities from such disasters? Time for radical urgent action, regardless of the cost.
Sarah, UK

My thoughts go to the family and friends that have lost loved ones. Everyday thousands of commuters are taking their lives into their hands by getting on to trains to get to work, school and so on. It is about time that this county's public transport system is made safe and reliable.
Su Morris, Herts, UK


Byers must resign

Edward, England, UK
Byers must resign.... Today... Now. Who cares about what he's involved in the House of Commons if people are dying on the public transport at regular periods?
Edward, England, UK

I would like to see Byers visit the families of the dead and injured, and explain to them exactly what he has done to make the British rail network a safe way to travel.
Christopher Morris-Piattoni, England

Enough is enough, this cannot be allowed to happen again. Byers must resign, the track and trains must both be renationalised and replaced. How can they even consider privatising the tube? Lives are worth more then this.
Claire Day, UK

Unbelievable, yet entirely believable. I feel very sad for the families of those impacted by this. Assuming this was an accident - why the hell do we have to put up with a government and leader that consistently is concerned only with its own image (happy to play as puppy to the US) and not sufficiently about its peoples safety. Stop blaming past governments and sort it out.
M Johnson, England

Re-nationalise the entire rail network now; and put it under the control of boards elected by workers and passengers!
Ben Drake, York, UK

As usual, people are rushing to judgement, apportioning blame and suggesting their own "simple" (meaning simplistic) solutions. Perhaps a better option might be to ... oh, I don't know ... wait for some facts as to what caused the accident?
F Korzeniowski, UK

Who will the government blame this time? - God?
James, England

It's become pretty clear that the middle and senior management of the rail network should be sacked and it put totally into private hands with no government interference. Byers should immediately resign without any further embarrassing excuses.
Andy, Wokingham, UK


I guess there will be a lot more talking and public enquiries, but no action

Erwin Saxon, UK
My sympathies to the bereaved and injured. I know its premature but its another derailing. I guess there will be a lot more talking and public enquiries lasting two years etc., but no action or responsibility to repair tracks. Talk is cheap. Its so bad Siemens had to test their new trains on artificially cracked rails.
Erwin Saxon, UK

It seems strange that there is damage under the bridge - could a lorry have collided with the bridge (perhaps lifting it?) while the train was crossing above?
Mark B, Australia

Although I was not a witness to this terrible crash, it seems to me trains travel far too quickly for the present track, signal and indeed personnel standards .A slower timetable may in fact be the best thing for our railways in general, making it a viable choice for convenience and price, rather than, at present, trying to make the train arrive a few minutes faster the same journey by car. Half an hour on the journey time is I think a reasonable price to pay to get there safely, a lesson learnt the hard way over many years as a car driver .
Martin Feldwick, UK

It is quite clear that the entire Railtrack system is unsafe and must be shut down and totally replaced.
David Joberns, UK

First and foremost, my thoughts are with the families and those close to the victims of this tragedy. But I'm angry. It's a railway system; it's not rocket science. Why can't we get it right? Why haven't we learned the lessons from previous accidents? Everything about whole country needs rebuilt.
Alan Mathie, Scotland


When is our public transport system going to be made safe?

Neil, England
When is our public transport system going to be made safe? How many more innocent people going about their daily lives have to die before something is done to sort this mess out? We pay billions in tax and have a transport network a 3rd World country would be ashamed of. It's time Byers resigned, he's in charge of this, and Labour shouldn't keep blaming years of under investment. They've been in for over 5 years now and things are getting worse rather than better. Sort it out for God's sake!!
Neil, England

Its about time those in power made the railway a top priority!
Dave H, UK

I guess that everyone will start blaming rail companies, etc. for this crash, but part of the blame must surely lie with ourselves and past generations for voting in governments that have pursued consistently the running down and under funding of the railway system in Britain.
David Martin, UK

Try asking about the state of the roads....when nearly as many die on them as were killed on September 11t each year. Lets have an enquiry every time there is a death on the roads. At the rate that they happen, you could have News 24 giving them 24 hour publicity and drooling over the carcase, just like you do with railways. Dont forget that they are private now of course!
Neil Garratt, UK

Seeing as privatising the railways has been such a roaring success, I personally can't wait to see the same forces in action on our NHS and postal service. Maybe this is the final blow Byers needs to fully renationalise the railways, put up petrol tax, and plough the surplus money back into public transport?
Simon Soaper, England


How can we ever feel safe travelling to work?

S.Taylor, UK
I take a train to and from London every day from Hatfield which uses the same track in which this and Hatfield crash happened on. How can we ever feel safe travelling to work? What choice do we have?
S.Taylor, UK

Surely Byers has to go now. Not only is his honesty questionable, but he's done nothing to improve the safety of the railways. When will he do the decent thing and resign?
Andy, UK

Trains are still many times safer than other forms of transport. I trust people will not be detered from using the train. My sympathies to the injured and relatives.
Bill, UK

In this country we have a third world rail service and infrastructure. It's about time that we say we will have a first class rail service to be proud of regardless of cost and political point scoring.
Jonathan, UK

Blair, enough of your spin-doctoring and sticking up for your pathetic Transport Minister. Get it sorted, or go sit on the opposition benches. Too many people have died as a result of this total inexcusable mess.
Matt Clarke, UK

The British train service is becoming a laughing stock and at worse a death trap. I feel for the families that have lost someone in this recent train accident. I use the trains nearly every day to get to and from university. It has becoming worrying knowing that these train accidents seem to be on the increase. How can the government expect people to use the trains when accidents like these happen?
Simon , UK

It sadly shows, yet again that money comes a long way before the value of life. This is very sad, my thoughts are with all the relatives and families. I hope that the powers that be finally stop arguing and take quick action to make rail travel safe.
Ian, England

I live in Potters Bar, I get on that platform every day. To think this is four stops away from Hatfield. If Stephen Byers isn't sacked now, it's clear that, as I always expected, passenger safety was never really a priority.
Daniel Lewis, UK

I travel on this line every night, 17:45 which also is a high speed train through PB. Heading north, as this train was, the train has to pass over track points, every night the train jumps around when going over the points. You then go over the bridge and through the station with the train still rocking from side to side.
Kevin Kirk, UK

I was not physically near the accident, but I was calling an American visitor on their way up to see us, who was expected to arrive at our office near Cambridge at 2pm (so was hoping to be on the 12.45 train). I could not get through - and assumed he was in the tunnels near Kings Cross. Let's hope he's OK - or on another train.
Prof Roland Holmes, Cambridge, UK


I am not surprised that this tragic accident has happened

Anil Malhotra, England
I am a regular user of this London-Cambridge service. Thankfully I did not travel to London today, because I could very easily have been on this train. I must comment that, in order to meet scheduling pressures, trains that depart a few minutes late often appear to travel at excessive speed. I am not surprised that this tragic accident has happened.
Anil Malhotra, England

Rail privatisation under the Tories was a disaster and the lack of funding and management under Labour has been shameful. I represent a company which tries to encourage people from overseas to visit Britain. I would love to know why anyone would want to visit this expensive third world nation. Answers on a Post Card please!
Dave, UK

I was on the platform waiting for the 12.56 train to Moorgate. I don't want to talk about the impact or the scene of the crash. Just praise members of the public especially those first aid trained staff from Sainsbury's, MacDonalds and local offices for coming to help at the scene so quickly and offering comfort and support both for those in the carriage and those of us who witnessed the scene at close hand on the platform - the simplest offer of a comforting arm meant a lot.
Owen Griffith, UK

What does Mr Byers have to say now? That he'll pay people to leave instead of repairing the railways?
Dominic Lund-Conlon, UK

After working for WAGN Railway for 5 years (at Cambridge) I know we have the best drivers and safety team around - my thoughts and prayers are with you ....
Kerrie Mackey, USA

The time has come to re-nationalise the railways and fix this chaotic, shambolic safety time bomb!
Charles McKean, UK

How many more times will this happen before Byers, the government, and the rail industry finally stop putting everyone's lives at risk and SORT OUT THE BLOODY RAILWAYS?
Guy Lambert, UK

Passenger safety MUST come first. If this means we have to pay a bit more money to travel and allow more time for journeys then so be it. It's time we all stopped being so selfish and started worrying about what REALLY matters... human life.
Carrie , UK

My sympathies and thoughts are naturally with anyone affected by this accident, but I would like to make one point. I have noted with interest the idea that privatisation is to blame for the recent spate of accidents on our railways. If you check out the chronology of rail accidents (on this website) you may be surprised to learn that accidents prior to privatisation were just as serious if not more so. I remember the Clapham Junction Tragedy particularly well. I think this just goes to show that apportioning blame and calling for re-nationalisation won't necessarily solve the problem.
Jenny, UK

As far as I can recall, the train carriages weigh in at about 47 Tonnes each, and the platform is about two feet higher than the track, so whatever caused the accident had to lift that weight at least two feet up in the air, so I would be surprised if it's track damage. I may be wrong, I don't want to prejudge the inquiry that will follow, but this may not be the fault of Railtrack, it may be a deliberate act of vandalism (read sabotage) or carelessness by another party. In either case it is still a sad day, and let us not forget, equivalent to less than one day's carnage on the roads. This is not to belittle this incident, but to highlight the complacency we have regarding the safety of private transport.
Iain Dawson, UK

Condolences to all those affected by this tragedy. Here is another case of where Britain has provided something to world only for us to lose the plot completely. A transport infrastructure owned by the people for the people is the only answer. Mr. Blair - please renationalise the railways - let's take the competition out of running this very key component of the UK infrastructure.
John Vance, Brit in US

I cannot agree with the "lets get things in perspective" people (Ben Friman, UK and others) - alright yes there are risks associated with every form of travel and, therefore almost by definition, an "acceptable accident level" but we cannot accept what's happening on our railways..it's negligence leading to unacceptable deaths, pure and simple!
Andy, UK

Stick a few pence on income tax for everyone for a few years and pay for the lines to be rebuilt in Britain and get them up to standard with say French lines.
Rich, Sweden (UK ex pat)


Potters Bar is a friendly and safe little town that now has a horrible shadow cast over it!

James Varnham, Potters Bar, England
My thoughts go to the families and friends of any casualties that have been involved in this terrible accident. After the smoke has cleared Byers should pack up his things and realise that he has failed in spectacular fashion in his role of sorting out our railways. Potters Bar is a friendly and safe little town that now has a horrible shadow cast over it! RESIGN BYERS. YOU HAVE FAILED!!
James Varnham, Potters Bar, England

I feel for the families of those involved, and as the comments on this page show some-one should go! We invented the railway system and now ours is about the worst, why? One thing, I will never get on a train again but will always take the car. Why- because I cannot afford the train and don't want to put myself at risk. But being impartial when it was British Rail this rarely happened. Britain is in decline, and this proves it; we don't even have an effective safe transport system.
Jed Noble, UK

Here in the Netherlands they best public transport system. Considering that the British pay billions in tax you would expect a better service. This also applies to the healthcare system here..a first class service all time! I think the UK should take tips from other European countries instead of using tax payers money on large salaries for its government leaders.
Liss, The Netherlands

The need for total action to update and repair the rail network, has never been more apparent. How many more lives will it take?
Nick Colyer, UK

My thoughts are with the families and victims, but I have one question: when are we going to get mandatory seatbelts on trains? They've saved countless lives in cars; they could well do the same on trains. They might even have saved the lives of some of today's victims. It's about time the train companies invested some money in the safety of their passengers!
Kath, England


I can't believe people are saying that we should look at the crash statistically

Paula, England
My thoughts are with you all. I can't believe people are saying that we should look at the crash statistically. The problem is when I climb into my car I am responsible for my safety, when I get into a train I am placing my trust and safety in a faceless, nameless driver and the rail company. That's a big difference. I am sure those poor people suffering loss would not like to hear their loved one's death is statistically unlucky.
Paula, England

This appalling accident is the best argument yet for abandoning the PPP plans for the London Underground.
Victoria Richardson, UK

ENOUGH is ENOUGH!!! I lived in Italy for 18 years and besides the numerous problems in that country, their trains are clean, on time and safe. I love the UK, but travelling on public transport here is the worst part of my day. FIX THESE PROBLEMS, they're only getting worse! My deepest condolences to those of you who have lost family and friends.
Christina, UK

On many occasions I have felt the train become "light" as if it were about to leave the track. The section of track from Hitchin to Potters Bar has many places that feel like this. The trains seem to go too fast.
Ian, England

Living in Potters Bar, I am sure I will feel the impact of this disaster when I arrive home. When something like this happens so close to home, it makes you realise the seriousness of it all, and wonder when this problem is going to be sorted out once and for all. My thoughts are with the families of those who have been injured. It is not good enough to say that 'accidents happen' anymore.
Dee Jankowski, UK

I was on the same rail line last night, returning from Heathrow to Cambridge. How many people have to die before actions are taken to support the riding public (as is more or less the case with other European countries) instead of the private companies who care only about profit?)
Nick Hansen, UK


I travel this line every day and think there but for the grace of God...

Lynne Jarman, UK
I am horrified. I travel this line every day and think there but for the grace of God... When are we going to get a safe railway system and in the meantime, how on earth do we carry on with our normal working lives? My heart goes out to the families of the bereaved.
Lynne Jarman, UK

If I had got to King's Cross a little earlier, I would have been on that train. Given that this is the second disaster, following Hatfield crash, it does make me more anxious about travelling on route.
Pamela, Cambridge, UK

Travelling by train in the UK is still many times safer per passenger km than by car especially, if you include all the other road users that drivers kill. I have never heard such vitriol poured on those responsible for car use.
Robin, Finland

I don't want to be the odd one out - obviously it is a tragedy - but just put it into perspective. Thousands die on the roads each year, and no one blinks an eye. A few dozen die on the railways and there is uproar. It is still one of the safest forms of transport there is.
Paul Tubb, Wales

I expect there will be a lot of discussion about who is responsible and what is to be done, but no one will actually take responsibility or do anything to improve safety.
Donald, UK

Like Jonathon Ray, I can certainly remember several occasions, sitting on trains on this route, having just been almost thrown off the track. Passengers look around at each other in disbelief. The trains have been getting faster, but the track on this route is not high-speed grade. Quite honestly I'd rather the trains were longer, slower and more reliable. The companies are clearly dangerously deluded. I guess the rail company will now blame Railtrack and vice versa. The Japanese have proved that safe railways are possible. It is intolerable that the same people continue to run the railway services.
A worried passenger, Herts, UK


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