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The BBC's Jon Brain
"Mr Corbett's reprieve has been welcomed"
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Railtrack's view
Sir Philip Beck, Railtrack Chairman and Nick Pollard, Railtrack Director
 real 56k

David Davis MP
"My instant reaction is that all of them should go"
 real 28k

Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Railtrack boss keeps his job
Hatfield crash site
Search is expected to be completed on Thursday
Railtrack's board have announced they will not accept the resignation of their chief executive, Gerald Corbett, over the Hatfield train crash.

Mr Corbett offered to step down "as a matter of principle" after four people were killed and 35 injured in Tuesday's train crash in Hertfordshire.

But the company also said its preliminary view was that a broken rail caused the crash and the condition of the rail was "wholly unacceptable".

Railtrack chief executive Gerald Corbett
Gerald Corbett: "Personally distraught"
Railtrack said rail services on the main east coast line may not be back to normal until the middle of next week as a result of the Hatfield train crash.

British Transport Police are expected to have concluded their inquiries by Thursday night.

Engineers and health and safety inspectors would then move in and spend the weekend clearing the damaged train and mending the track.

Railtrack has identified as many as 100 track locations "with similar characteristics to that at the stretch of track at Hatfield", where speed restrictions have now been imposed.

The rail industry generally welcomed the board's decision, which was announced at 0600 BST, following a six-hour meeting which ended around midnight.

'Damage limitation'

But former British Rail senior operations manager Peter Rayner said Railtrack had merely been engaged in "damage limitation", adding that there was "an underlying malaise affecting the industry".

The imposed speed restrictions will require drivers to knock a third off their permitted speed in similar areas and will lead to inevitable delays for passengers.

A statement from Railtrack said the immediate measures had been deemed sufficient to protect the public in other parts of the network.

It continued: "These [measures] have been discussed with the Railway Inspectorate. They will be kept under continuous review, but the timeframe of the renewal of the network will also be accelerated."

Corbett 'distraught'

Mr Corbett tendered his resignation on Wednesday, saying he was "distraught that another tragedy has occurred on our railways".

Both the Association of Train Operating Companies and the Rail Passengers Council welcomed the news that he was staying on, while the Liberal Democrats said he was "probably the best-placed person" to help sort out problems on the railway.


Mr Corbett is the person best qualified to lead the company in the search for all root causes of the disaster

Railtrack

Railtrack said the emergency board meeting on Wednesday unanimously decided to refuse the offer.

"Mr Corbett is the person best qualified to lead the company in the search for all root causes of the disaster and the responses," it said.

"Rail quality improvement has been led vigorously by Mr Corbett and that effort must be followed through by the company."

Railtrack has admitted that it has known since January that the track involved in the crash was "not good" and had been due to be replaced.

Rail services on the main east coast line may not be back to normal until the middle of next week as a result of the crash, the company said on Thursday.

Victims named

Railtrack offered its "deepest sympathies to the bereaved and injured".

Police have named three of the people killed in the crash as Steve Arthur, 46, from Pease Pottage, West Sussex, Peter Monkhouse, 50, of Headingley, Leeds, and Leslie Gray, 43, of Tuxford, Nottingham.

The fourth person who died has not yet been named.
Flowers laid by Railtrack staff
Railtrack have offered their 'deepest sympathies' to victims' families

Lindsey Arthur, 33, of Pease Pottage in West Sussex, said her husband Steve had taken the Leeds train to pick up passengers to fly to Jersey in a private jet.

"I had heard nothing about the crash and the first I knew of it was a message on my answer phone from one of the passengers Steve had been due to pick up in Leeds," she said.

"I had a sleepless night and then at 7.30am on Wednesday I got the news about Steve. I'm just numb. He was such a brilliant husband, father and son.

"Going to the crash scene was something of a help to me. I spoke to another lady who was widowed.

"I can't really think about things like rail safety yet."

Mr Arthur ran the Atlantic Gulf Aviation company, based near Miami in Florida.

The couple, who had been married for eight years, had two children - Holly, seven, and Nicholas, four.

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