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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Potters Bar victims to get 12m
Destroyed train carriage at the Potters Bar train station
It has been difficult to decide who was to blame
Railtrack is to pay up to 12m in compensation to victims of the Potters Bar Rail Crash.

The company has stressed the pay-out, which is likely to mean 1m for each family of the seven victims, is not an admission of liability.

The money will come from the collapsed network operator's accounts.

A spokeswoman said Railtrack had decided that the families of those who died in the crash and those who were injured had suffered enough.

Blame

"We say that the victims have had enough to deal with and it is time to help them," she said.

"It's the responsible thing to do."

The remaining 5m will be shared by the 67 people injured in the crash on 10 May.

Normally, no payments are made after an accident on the railways in which people are injured until the insurers for the companies responsible have accepted liability.

But because it has been proving difficult to establish blame in this case, Railtrack agreed with Jarvis, the company responsible for maintaining the points that caused the crash, and West Anglia Great Northern Railway (WAGN), the train operator, to offer compensation now.

The Strategic Rail Authority was also involved in the decision.

Broken points

Between them, they agreed Railtrack would be reimbursed if another company was found to be responsible.

Railtrack will reportedly start paying out compensation immediately on claims as they are received.

In a statement, Railtrack, Jarvis and WAGN said: "We, the rail industry parties involved in the Potters Bar derailment, are concerned that three months after the accident none of the various inquiries underway has been able to identify the root cause of the accident.

"We would not want failure to establish liability to cause unnecessary stress to the victims and relatives of those involved.

"Consequently, in their interests, and without prejudice to any issue of liability, Railtrack will act on behalf of the industry parties in handling and settling claims arising from the accident."

Public inquiry call

The crash happened when a WAGN train travelling from King's Cross to King's Lynn derailed just outside the Hertfordshire station.

Broken points were blamed, on a stretch of line which was meant to have been inspected by maintenance staff contracted by Railtrack.

The families of the victims have called for a public inquiry into the crash.

Among them was children's author Nina Bawden, who lost her husband and was herself badly injured.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Serpell
"The offer has received a cautious welcome"
Potters Bar victims' solicitor Louise Christian
"All the travelling public want to know that this will not happen again"
Railtrack Chief Executive John Armitt
"Hopefully the outcome will be satisfactory for everyone involved"

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See also:

24 Jul 02 | UK
11 Jun 02 | England
11 May 02 | England
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