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Tuesday, 6 March, 2001, 13:04 GMT
Selby crash was 'unavoidable'
Rescue workers at Selby
Wreckage is still being removed from the crash scene
One of the trains involved in the Selby rail crash was running 20 minutes early but the official report into the tragedy has cleared the rail industry of any blame.

Police believe 10 people were killed last Wednesday when an East Coast main line passenger train hit a car on the track before colliding with a freight train.

The interim report, published on Tuesday by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), described the accident as "wholly exceptional" and said it had "horrific consequences".


My sympathies continue to lie with the families of the injured and the bereaved

Vic Coleman
HSE
It revealed that the freight train involved started its journey 20 minutes ahead of schedule, but said its early departure was within the rules and its driver had no chance of avoiding the collision.

After holding a minute's silence for the victims of the disaster, the HSE's chief inspector of railways, Vic Coleman, said neither driver was to blame for the crash.

He said both were braking when the collision happened but the distances were so short they could do nothing to avert the crash.

The report also said the passenger train driver could not have avoided the Land Rover which had come on to the tracks after leaving the M62.

'Sympathies'

After hitting the vehicle, the train derailed but stayed upright for about 700 metres until it hit a set of points which further deflected it into the path of the freight train, it added.

Mr Coleman said the combined speed of both of the trains on impact was 140mph and that it was one of the highest speed collisions ever recorded.

"My sympathies continue to lie with the families of the injured and the bereaved," he added.

The HSE's chief inspector of railways, Vic Coleman
Vic Coleman: Sympathies for injured and bereaved
Investigators have established that just 60 seconds elapsed between the time the Land Rover driver, Gary Hart, telephoned a warning to police and the time the two trains collided.

The vehicle had left the M62 some distance before the motorway barriers protecting a bridge over the railway line near the village of Great Heck, the report said.

The Land Rover had continued along the steep road embankment and subsequently down a railway embankment before coming to rest on the London-bound line at about 0612GMT.

The HSE report said British Transport Police and North Yorkshire Police were carrying out an investigation involving the Land Rover.

Police investigation

This includes "the manner in which the vehicle was driven, the health and condition of the driver, the condition of the vehicle and the extent to which the weather may have been a contributory factor to the Land Rover leaving the M62 carriageway".

A separate report form the Highways Agency (HA) found the motorway barriers at the accident scene were well within national standards.

John Weddle
Train driver John Weddle was one of the victims
It said they would have had to be more than double their length if they were to have prevented the Land Rover from leaving the motorway.

A further report is being carried out for the HA into road features and conditions which might have had a bearing on the accident.

The HA's chief highways engineer, John Kerman, said the possibility of introducing longer safety barriers on Britain's motorways was under discussion, but it was too early to draw any firm conclusions.

"We believe a unique set of circumstances caused this accident but we are looking at the implications for barrier design," he said.

In a statement issued after the publication of the report Railtrack said it would examine the findings and if there were any lessons to be learned, it would learn them.

Accident investigators were continuing the painstaking process of removing wreckage from the crash site on Tuesday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Tom Symonds
"Today's report doesn't say how the vehicle got onto the track in the first place"
The HSE's Vic Coleman
"We owe it to those who have died to learn what we can"
Author and journalist Christian Wolmar
"We need a rail accident investigation board which is separate from the HSE"

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05 Mar 01 | UK
28 Feb 01 | UK
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