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Sunday, 22 October, 2000, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Hatfield victims remembered
Lighting memorial candles
Candles were lit in memory of the crash victims
Hatfield has paid its respects to the victims of Tuesday's fatal train crash in a memorial church service.

Locals, religious leaders and members of the emergency services were invited to join the Rector of Hatfield, Rev Richard Pyke, in the parish church to light candles and reflect in peace.

A short service, including readings and prayers, was then held in memory of the four people who were killed when a GNER passenger train derailed at almost 115mph. Thirty-five people were injured.

John Prescott on BBC1's Breakfast with Frost
John Prescott warned he could withdraw Railtrack's operating licence
Earlier Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott signalled major extra investment in the UK's railway infrastructure.

Work has also continued on removing the three remaining overturned carriages from the crash site.

The victims of the crash were Steve Arthur, 46, from Pease Pottage, West Sussex, Peter Monkhouse, 50, of Headingley, Leeds, Leslie Gray, 43, of Tuxford, Nottingham, and Robert James Alcorn, 37, of Auckland, New Zealand.

Mr Prescott told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost programme that safety was his "top priority".

Railtrack would be given help to free up extra funds for track maintenance and renewal, he indicated.

According to newspaper reports, rail industry regulator Tom Winsor will on Monday announce grants of about 5bn over five years, increasing original estimates by about 1bn.

"What the regulator will be announcing tomorrow is the access charges to achieve that kind of expenditure," Mr Prescott said.

The government would meet "so much of the money", he went on, and the private sector train operating companies the rest.

Carriages involved in the Hatfield train crash
Removal of the carriages began on Saturday
"And what the regulator does tomorrow is decide the track charges to allow you to meet that investment in safety and in the improvement of the railway system."

Mr Prescott warned that he could withdraw Railtrack's operating licence if it failed to fulfil safety obligations.

"If they are not doing that, then the agencies make a recommendation to me, and I have the authority to take the licence away from Railtrack."

The Health and Safety Executive, one of the agencies charged with advising the deputy prime minister on whether Railtrack is maintaining a safe railway system, will report to him on Tuesday.

Mr Prescott also signalled that the number of train operating companies could be reduced from the current 25, a move recommended by Railtrack chief executive Gerald Corbett in the wake of Tuesday's crash.

The deputy prime minister also referred to a likely strengthening of the law on corporate manslaughter.

The government hope to be able to examine the results of a consultation process and Lord Cullen's inquiry into rail safety by next spring, he said.

An emotional visit to Hatfield crash site
Relatives of the victims visited the Hatfield crash site on Friday
"And then, as I announced to the Labour Party conference, I will bring in a new piece of legislation which will take into account not only the corporate manslaughter arguments, but all the recommendations that may come out of Cullen."

Tory transport spokesman Bernard Jenkin said the investment in maintenance to be detailed on Monday was not new money.

"The money Mr Prescott is promising in tomorrow's announcement by the regulator is reannouncing money allocated in the spending review and the 10-year transport plan."

Week of closure

Despite the continuing salvage operation the line running through the crash site is expected to remain closed for at least another week.

So far only the undamaged front carriages of the train have been removed. Crash investigators are waiting to examine the area where parts of the train still lie.

The site will be handed back to rail operators once the search for evidence is completed and officers are satisfied no "external cause", such as vandalism, was responsible for the derailment.

An interim report has found that a broken rail was the likely cause of the crash, 17 miles north of London's King's Cross station.

The BBC's Tom Symonds
"The slow process of recovery has begun"
Hertfordshire train crash

The investigation




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20 Oct 00 | UK Politics
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