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EDITIONS
Saturday, 11 May, 2002, 03:53 GMT 04:53 UK
Papers press Byers on train crash
The newspapers on Saturday, 11 May, 2002
The papers debate the causes of the crash
The papers express a collective and sorrowful sense of deja vu in reporting the tragic events at Potters Bar. And some look to beleaguered Transport Secretary Stephen Byers for answers.

The Daily Mirror's front page certainly packs a punch.

It claims 58 lives have been lost on the railways under Labour, while eight lives were claimed in the previous six years.

And it ridicules reassurances from the transport secretary by asking the question "Safe? You must be joking, Mr Byers."

In its editorial, the paper predicts more disasters before Labour's promised investment bears fruit.

If the cause of the Potters Bar crash turns out to be vandalism, for example, it would be outrageous to denounce Railtrack

The Guardian

In putting the spotlight on Stephen Byers, the Mirror echoes the Daily Express, which says the minister has been working so hard to keep his job, "getting stories straight, issuing statements", his concentration may have wavered.

The Express asks: "Might these energies not have been better spent on providing what Britain demands but clearly lacks: a railway system that is reliable and, above all, safe?"

The Daily Telegraph joins in the hunt and says the minister cannot blame the private sector this time, since Railtrack was taken into administration.

And it suggests the company's uncertain future, created by Mr Byers, may have affected safety.

Hatfield repeated?

As for the immediate cause of the crash, the Telegraph sums it up for most of Fleet Street in saying: "Faulty points are the prime suspect."

The Sun and the Mirror indicate this could be why the train derailed and the Mirror quotes a CID officer saying: "It looks like a points problem."

But the Daily Mail is not so sure and asks "Was the track cracked?"

Expressing the concerns of "industry insiders", the paper invites the comparison to Hatfield in October 2000, where four died after rails disintegrated under the weight of a GNER express.
The wreck
The train's rear carriage came to rest on the platform

The Times and the Guardian are more restrained and refuse to second-guess the investigation by jumping to conclusions.

But the Times says a cracked rail would be the most disastrous reason, because of all the painstaking repairs made to the network after Hatfield.

The Sun's editorial reasons there could be a cause beyond the responsibility of anyone in the rail industry - "an act of God".

But it adds: "If faulty track, points or equipment are to blame, though, there will be a public outcry."


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10 May 02 | England
10 May 02 | Business
10 May 02 | Health
10 May 02 | England
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