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Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 14:12 GMT
Minute's silence for rail crash victims
Rescue workers at Selby
Wreckage is still being removed from the crash scene
Hundreds of rail staff and passengers observed a minute's silence on Wednesday to remember those who died in the Selby rail crash a week ago.

The collective mark of respect took place at midday at 12 stations between London and Scotland, and also on trains travelling on the East Coast main line.

For GNER staff, there was a sense of great loss as three of their colleagues were killed in the crash.

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

For the minute's silence on Wednesday, a platform departure board at Newcastle Central station carried a tribute to driver John Weddle, guard Ray Robson and chef Paul Taylor.

My thoughts are with your families at this time

GNER staff member
Mr Taylor's family hugged each other throughout the silence, led by GNER chief executive Christopher Garnett.

Station supervisor Eddie Palmer, 56, said: "It was nice to see the numbers paying their respects towards their colleagues."

After the minute's silence at York station, passengers looked at books of condolence that had been placed on a table adorned with white roses, daisies and lilies.

One staff member had written: "As a regular on the 0600 from York I shall miss you, particularly the friendly chats we often had.

"My thoughts are with your families at this time."

The tribute comes one day after the official report into the tragedy cleared the rail industry of any blame.

'Horrific consequences'

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".

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.

HSE 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.

John Weddle
Train driver John Weddle was one of the victims
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.

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.

The combined speed of both of the trains on impact was 140mph, one of the highest speed collisions ever recorded.

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.

Accident investigators are continuing the painstaking process of removing wreckage from the crash site.

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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