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Sunday, 12 May, 2002, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
Papers focus on railway 'malaise'
With a set of points being blamed for the Potters Bar rail disaster, most of the papers take the opportunity to consider the underlying reasons for the rail network's ailing health.

The Independent on Sunday argues that saving the railways is as vital as reviving the NHS.

It believes the government needs to consider radical ways of integrating the network.

This view is shared by The Sunday Telegraph, which calls for Railtrack to be put back into private hands.

In its view, public sector organisations react sluggishly, if at all, to accidents.

The paper's reporter in Potters Bar describes how it was difficult to comprehend "the sense of peaceful lives thrust horribly out of shape".

Perhaps even more difficult for the town to come to terms with would be The Observer's suggestion that the crash was the result of vandalism.

Royal visit

According to the paper, nuts securing the points control rod had been removed and were lying next to the track.

Several of the papers picture the Prince of Wales visiting some of those who were injured in the crash at Barnet Hospital.

The Sunday Telegraph says Prince Charles described how his heart stood still when he heard of the accident.

Byers' reputation

The Mail on Sunday believes the embattled transport secretary will come under more pressure following the disclosure that the Labour party accepted a donation of more than 100,000 from Richard Desmond.

It points out that the donation came shortly before Mr Byers, as the then trade secretary, approved Mr Desmond's takeover of Express Newspapers.

The paper concludes that almost every time the government is involved in something underhand, "the embarrassing figure of Stephen Byers can be spotted running from the scene".

There is bad news for millions of homeowners in The Sunday Telegraph, which reports that three out five people with endowment mortgages will have to find many thousands of pounds of extra money to pay off their loans.

It says the total shortfall is 60bn.

Posh party

The Mail on Sunday focuses on the arrangements for David and Victoria Beckham's World Cup party at their home in Hertfordshire.

It says the cost of the event, originally intended to be a small celebration for the England team, has spiralled so dramatically that the couple have been offering invitations to companies, at a cost of 3,000 a head.

The move is perhaps surprising in the light of David Beckham's new contract with Manchester United.

The Sunday Times says it makes him the highest paid footballer in the world, and which when combined with commercial endorsements could take his earnings to 10m a year.

With the World Cup approaching, the Sunday Mirror reveals that the England captain will protect his injured toe with a revolutionary new German boot, costing 10,000.

It will have a carbon fibre casing over the damaged bone.

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