Six rail managers charged with manslaughter following the Hatfield rail crash are unlikely to stand trial until at least January 2005.
Four people were killed and more than 100 injured in the crash
Previous estimates suggested the court case would begin in September 2004, but at a progress hearing on Tuesday lawyers at Luton Crown Court said the target was unrealistic.
The trial of the six men, who are accused of the manslaughter of four passengers killed during the crash in October 2000, is also expected to last about a year rather than three months as previously estimated.
The hearing will also include charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act against 12 men and two companies - Network Rail Ltd (formerly Railtrack) and Balfour Beatty Rail Services Ltd.
The two companies are also facing manslaughter charges.
After hearing that the prosecution was still investigating the crash and gathering evidence from e-mails, Judge Michael Findlay Baker QC said the trial was not likely to start until January 2005.
He said as yet no high court judge had been allocated to hear the case and no suitable venue been found to accommodate the
large number of lawyers and enormous amount of paperwork involved.
Jonathan Goldberg QC, representing Balfour Beatty, added: "The previous estimate of the length of trial being three months is wildly unrealistic.
"It is more likely to last between nine and twelve months."
Another review was to be held in December, followed by a hearing in June or July next year when it was anticipated lawyers would present their arguments that the charges should be dismissed.
Four people died and 102 were injured in the crash which was caused when a high-speed GNER East Coast train derailed south of Hatfield station in Hertfordshire.