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EDITIONS
Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 16:02 GMT
Call to boost barrier safety
Wreckage at the scene of the Selby rail disaster
GNER says the Mark 4 carriages proved very 'robust'
Rail groups and train operator GNER said they believed little could be done to prevent a freak accident like Selby re-occurring if similar events conspired again.

But they did say there needed to be re-examination of the length and strength of road barriers.

Peter Lawrence of pressure group Rail Future, which campaigns for better rail services across the UK said: "The verdict was just and inevitable.

"The accident itself cannot be considered purely as a rail crash, but also a road crash."


The aim is to try and ensure tragedies like this do not happen again

Alan Hyde, GNER

And he said the issue of motorway crash barriers needed to be looked at.

Mr Lawrence said: "I don't think the crash barriers were sufficient and needed lengthening to prevent this type of accident occurring.

"The local authorities and the Highway Agency have to sit down and look at this very carefully because it's clear that the safety precautions were inadequate.

"There was no indication of blame to be attached to the rail system - this is a road problem."

'Distressing time'

Mr Lawrence conceeded it was questionable whether more road barriers could have prevented the Selby accident, but said an inquiry could establish that further.

Alan Hyde, corporate affairs manager at GNER, told BBC News Online: "The trial has been a painful and distressing time for many people.

"Now that it is over we hope the survivors, the Great Heck community, and the bereaved families including those of the three GNER employees who so tragically lost their lives, can take another step forward."

He added: "This was a totally awful, freakish, set of circumstances and coincidences, which includes so many "if onlys".


Rail travel remains a much safer mode or travel than road travel, and in many ways this was a road accident

Frances Critchley, Rail Passengers Council

"But there is a question surrounding the road-rail interface, and that is something a number of working parties is currently looking at.

"Those taking an interest include the Highways Agency, Railtrack, the Health and Safety Executive, and rail operators.

"The aim is to try and ensure tragedies like this do not happen again."

He said the company's mark-four train carriages had stood up well to the crash impact and had probably saved many lives.

Mr Hyde said: "There were incredibly robust, and without them the casualty and injured rate could have been much higher.

"The carriages stood up very well to the force of the impact."

Frances Critchley is deputy passenger of the York-based North East branch of the Rail Passengers Council, which monitors commuter travel in the Selby area.

Strong carriages

She told BBC News Online: "This was a freak and tragic accident. The probability of an accident like this happening again is very slight.

"Rail travel also remains a much safer mode or travel than road travel, and in many ways this was a road accident.

"There are two working groups set up to look at the question of rail barriers being lengthened.

"However in this instance who can say if longer barriers would have prevented the accident.

"The rolling stock stood up to the accident very well, and there are no devices that could have been used to prevent the GNER train being pushed into the goods train when it hit the points.

"We have no qualms about continuing to point out the good overall safety record of rail travel."


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13 Dec 01 | England
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