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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 01:18 GMT
Potters Bar lessons 'not learned'
Workers at the train crash site
One passenger was killed and eight were seriously injured

The fatal train derailment in Cumbria proves lessons from the 2002 Potters Bar disaster have not been learned, it has been claimed.

An initial report said the "immediate cause" of Friday's accident was faulty points - as with the earlier tragedy.

Investigators in Cumbria found one of three stretcher bars not in position, two fractured and bolts missing.

Louise Christian, who represents Potters Bar victims' families, said both crashes were "incredibly similar".

Solicitor Ms Christian called for a joint public inquiry into the two accidents to find out "why the lessons haven't been learnt".

"I don't think it's good enough for the government to sit on its hands again as it did over Potters Bar," she said.

Margaret Masson, 84, was killed when the London to Glasgow Virgin Pendolino derailed on Friday evening at Grayrigg, Cumbria, and eight others were seriously injured.

The train driver Iain Black, 46, is among those still in hospital. He is in serious but stable condition after suffering a broken collar bone and neck bone.

The initial report from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said faults with the points meant the tilting train could not follow its intended path over the tracks and derailed.

It also said there was no evidence to indicate the driving of the train or the condition of the train were contributory factors.

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In May 2002, seven people died as a result of the Potters Bar derailment, where nuts were missing from a set of points and the lock stretcher bar fractured.

The bars join the moving rails, keeping them a set distance apart.

Perdita Kark, whose father Austen died at Potters Bar, told the BBC's World Tonight programme that "it would appear a very, very similar thing has happened in Cumbria".

"Obviously no lesson has been learnt by anybody at all," she added.

"It's just a disgrace and it makes me feel sick."

The (RAIB) report also found evidence that the last scheduled visual inspection of the track on February 18 by the company responsible for the track, Network Rail (NR), did not take place.

Rail safety expert Peter Rayner said the Cumbria derailment looked like a re-run of the 2002 crash.

The inquiry into the Cumbria rail tragedy is likely to be long and sweeping
Tom Symonds,
BBC transport correspondent

He added: "It has similarities with Potters Bar because I think the points will have been recently subject to maintenance and as a consequence, left in a situation where they were not fit for purpose.

"My instinct tells me that this is a situation where the system that Network Rail had put in place has not worked and these points have not been subjected to the inspection that they should have done."

Network Rail chief executive John Armitt said his organisation was "devastated" by the report and he offered an "unreserved apology" to passengers.

He told the BBC he would not resign because he did not intend to "abdicate his responsibilities".


Attempts to move the train carriages from the scene are not expected to start until the end of the week.

A forensic examination at the sire carried out by the British Transport Police, the RAIB and Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate is expected to carry on for several days.

Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander told the House of Commons any recommendations for urgent safety improvements during the investigation into the derailment would be acted upon immediately.

But the final report would take "some months to prepare", he added.

While the crash investigation continues, buses are operating from Preston to Carlisle and from Lancaster to Carlisle serving Oxenholme and Penrith, in both directions.

GNER, TransPennine, Northern and Virgin CrossCountry have said they are accepting Virgin West Coast tickets until further notice.

Cumbria Police helpline: 0800 056 0146
Police family liaison centre: 0800 40 50 40
National Rail Enquiries: 08457 48 49 50

Points graphic

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