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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Author's anger over Potters Bar disaster
Potters Bar crash
Seven people died and more than 70 were injured
A year ago on Saturday, author Nina Bawden was with her husband, Austen Kark, in the West Anglia Great Northern Train, which was derailed at Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.

Her husband was one of the seven people killed. Ms Bawden suffered severe injuries. She recounts the events of the past year.

"As the days pass, I get angrier and angrier.

"When you buy a ticket, they don't tell you that you travel at your own risk," said Ms Bawden, an award-winning writer who has had more than 40 books published.

"The Health and Safety Executive and the police have been very helpful, but neither Railtrack nor the rail company seem to care very much about us."

She and Mr Kark, a former head of the BBC World Service, were travelling to Cambridge to attend an evening party.

Nina Bawden, publicity photo taken before the disaster
Author Nina Bawden has published more than 40 books

Ms Bawden, a grandmother of nine, who lives in Islington, north London, said on Thursday: "We could easily have taken a later train, but we thought we would get to Cambridge early, book into a hotel, have some lunch and an afternoon snooze before the party.

"I remember very little about the crash itself. But I do remember Austen smiling at me just before the impact."

Ms Bawden suffered terrible injuries in the derailment that killed seven people and injured 70.

They included two broken arms, a broken leg and a broken ankle.

She was in hospital for eight weeks and still has a limp.

She recalled: "Somebody told me Austen was dead.

"I didn't believe it. I thought it was a bad dream.

"My injuries were bad enough, but not to have Austen with me was pretty terrible.

"I'm still quite lame in one leg. I can't get on buses.

"I have not been on a domestic train since the accident, although I did take Eurostar to Paris.

Two memorial services

"Mind you, I've always thought of Eurostar as a French train.

"I will eventually take a local train. I don't want to be inhibited."

Ms Bawden said: "If Railtrack, or anyone, had just admitted responsibility for the accident it would have been good.

"As it is, it is so hurtful. I have had some interim compensation payments, but they have all gone on nursing.

"If you buy a ticket, the railway has a duty of care."

On the first anniversary of the crash this Saturday, Ms Bawden, who was married for 48 years, will join other survivors and bereaved families at two memorial services at Potters Bar.

She said: "I have written some newspaper pieces and have started to think about producing a children's book.

"But I am finding everything quite difficult."

Solicitor calls for Potters Bar inquiry
07 May 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Town to mark rail tragedy
25 Apr 03  |  Beds/Bucks/Herts
Potters Bar police launch hotline
28 Aug 02  |  England
Bawden: 'I realised he was dead'
11 Jun 02  |  England



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