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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 08:15 GMT
'Hero' driver saddened at death
Iain Black
Mr Black joined Virgin Trains in 2000
The driver of the train which crashed in Cumbria has spoken of his sadness at the death of an elderly passenger.

Iain Black, 46, was hailed a hero after it emerged he stayed at the controls of the Virgin Train's pendolino as it careered off the rails.

Margaret Masson, 84, died when the London to Glasgow train derailed at Grayrigg on Friday.

Mr Black, from Dumbarton, said he was "distraught" that one person had died and several others were seriously hurt.

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson and trade union colleagues have praised Mr Black, who is being treated for neck and shoulder injuries at the Royal Preston Hospital, where he is in a stable condition.

The Cumbria crash scene
The interim report focus is on how the points operated

In a brief statement, Mr Black, whose girlfriend has been at his bedside since the crash, said: "I am obviously distraught that one person died in the accident and saddened about those who remain seriously ill and I wish them a speedy recovery.

"I am extremely grateful to all my friends, colleagues and employer for all their goodwill messages and support.

"I am also indebted to the staff at the Royal Preston Hospital and all the emergency services for the part they have played.

"Obviously I can't say anything about the accident because of the ongoing investigation, but I am just glad that more people were not seriously injured."

An initial report into the crash said the "immediate cause" of Friday's accident was faulty points.

Investigators in Cumbria found one of three stretcher bars was not in position with two fractured and bolts missing.

Cumbria Police helpline: 0800 056 0146
Police family liaison centre: 0800 40 50 40
National Rail Enquiries: 08457 48 49 50

The initial report from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said faults with the points meant the tilting train could not follow its intended path over the tracks and derailed.

It also said there was no evidence to indicate the driving of the train or the condition of the train were contributory factors.

Work is ongoing to recover the train wreckage, with a temporary road being constructed at the rural site, which is by country lanes.

Examination at the site carried out by the British Transport Police, the RAIB and Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate is expected to carry on for several days.

While the crash investigation continues, buses are operating from Preston to Carlisle and from Lancaster to Carlisle serving Oxenholme and Penrith, in both directions.

GNER, TransPennine, Northern and Virgin CrossCountry have said they are accepting Virgin West Coast tickets until further notice.

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