BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
N Ireland
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Friday, 10 May, 2002, 23:38 GMT 00:38 UK
Seven dead in Potters Bar crash
One carriage flipped over onto two platforms
The Potters Bar train crash has claimed the lives of seven people.

A seventh casualty died in hospital, seven hours after the passenger train travelling from London to Norfolk derailed at Potters Bar railway station in Hertfordshire.

Fatal journey
Train leaves King's Cross for King's Lynn at 1245 BST
Due to pass through Potters Bar at 1300 without stopping
As train approaches station at 100mph it derails
Five people die at scene, two later

For more detail
click here
Five people died at the scene and two more have died in hospital, down from three after police said there had been "confusion" over numbers.

Another 11 casualties have serious or critical injuries while there were up to 60 walking wounded.

An investigation has been launched by British Transport Police and HM Rail Inspectorate.

The train was the 1245 WAGN service from King's Cross, London, to King's Lynn in Norfolk.

Three of the train's four carriages derailed in the accident which happened just before 1300 BST.
Map of Hertfordshire
Enlarge image Click here for more detail

As they slewed across the track on the approach to the station a road bridge was damaged and later partly collapsed.

The rear carriage flipped across two platforms and became wedged under the canopy of the station roof.

The train was not due to stop at Potters Bar and it is thought it was travelling at up to 100 mph.

Chief Superintendent Andy Wright, who is leading the rescue effort, compared the devastation at the scene with the Hatfield crash two years ago, in which four people died.

'Like a bomb'

He said all the dead and most seriously injured had been in the rear carriage.

Eyewitness John Fuller described the carriage being "spread-eagled" across the tracks.

The carriage that is underneath the station's canopy is totally destroyed - its metal is twisted

Paul Davies

"It looks like a bomb explosion - there's very bad damage," he said.

The driver of the West Anglia Great Northern train, Andy Gibson, from London, was uninjured and said he "felt the train give way from the rear of the train".

A spokesman for his union Aslef told the BBC he felt the train - which had 151 people on board - had passed over something.


Andy Perveris was waiting on the platform when the crash happened.

"I heard a bang, turned round and saw a train carriage on the platform coming towards me," he said.

Andy Perveris
Andy Perveris ran as the train careered towards him

"Everyone just turned and legged it.

"I saw bodies lying on the rail, heard screaming and saw smoke and dust settling from the train.

"The first thing I did was panic. The second thing was get onto the rail to see if there was anyone who needed help."

Mr Perveris went to the aid of an unconscious woman. She died in his arms.

Carriage 'destroyed'

Eyewitness Paul Davies said he could see the station from the window of his office.

The train shuddered and seemed to catapult

Jane McDonald, Passenger

To read more of your comments, click here

"The carriage that is underneath the station's canopy is totally destroyed.

"Its metal is twisted."

The injured were taken to Barnet General Hospital.

A spokesman said injuries ranged from open fractures to head and chest injuries.


The Queen was said to be "shocked" to learn of the crash.

Transport secretary Stephen Byers ordered an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

"All of our thoughts must be with the families and friends of those who have been killed or injured today in this tragic accident," he said.

Debris from the bridge hit by the train fell onto vehicles

Several News Online users and regular travellers on that line said there was a noticeable "jolt" every time the train went through Potters Bar.

"I have been waiting for this the last couple of weeks," said Tim Richardson.

"Every time we pass that area the carriages have been hitting something on the rail and shaking violently."

Recent rail disasters
Great Heck
28 Feb 2001
17 Oct 2000
Ladbroke Grove
5 Oct 1999
19 Sep 1997
Watford Junction
8 Aug 1996
Clapham Junction
12 Dec 1988

At a press conference on Friday evening, Railtrack chief executive John Armitt said the maintenance record of the track, and the last set of points prior to the crash, would be examined.

George Muir, of the Association of Train Operating Companies, told BBC News: "There's been an extraordinary focus on safety in the last two years, which I hope passengers understand.

"The investment that's gone into safety is very much more than ever before - 3bn last year on renewals and maintenance."

Potters Bar station is only a few miles down the line from the site of the Hatfield train disaster in which four people were killed two years ago.

Louise Christian, the solicitor acting for the victims of the Southall and Ladbroke Grove disasters, called for an immediate public inquiry into Friday's tragedy and the Hatfield crash.

Emergency information 0845 944 1551

The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
"The train had been travelling at over 90 mph"
Railway inspector Dr Allen Sefton
"It is far too early to speculate about the cause of the accident"
Passenger on the platform Sam Irving
"We smashed the windows and helped people out"

Key stories





See also:

10 May 02 | England
10 May 02 | Business
10 May 02 | Health
10 May 02 | England
Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |