Page last updated at 20:56 GMT, Thursday, 1 March 2007

Operation to remove wrecked train

Train wreckage and crane
An 800-ton crane was used to lift the first carriage

The operation to remove the wreckage of a high-speed train which derailed in Cumbria has begun.

Two new roads have been built to allow access to the site at Grayrigg, near Kendal, and heavy lifting equipment has been set up.

Technical problems meant the operation was delayed from Thursday afternoon to the evening.

One person died and 20 were injured when the Virgin Pendolino London to Glasgow train derailed on 23 February.

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.

A 800-ton crane was used to hoist coach B from the railway bank.

It was lowered onto a mound of earth at the same angle as it had come to rest after it careered off the rails so as not to disturb any forensic evidence.

'Marks and damage'

Martyn Ripley, British Transport Police's senior officer on site, said because of the way the carriages had landed it had previously been unsafe for anyone to enter them.

Once they had been corrected, forensic teams would be able to get inside to start recovering passengers' property.

He said: "More importantly we will be able to have a look at the underside of the vehicle to examine it and perhaps gain more forensic evidence.

"There's a possibility there might be marks and damage under the vehicle that will tell experts more information about how the vehicles came off the railway line and give them an indication about how the accident happened."

Once examined, coaches will be lifted onto a low loader lorry and transported from the crash site.

Police are enforcing a parking ban along the A685 from Tebay so they can get through.

The work is expected to carry on throughout the night and it may be days before all carriages are removed.

Once all nine carriages are removed it will pave the way for the West Coast Mainline to reopen fully, although the earliest this is expected to take place is 10 March.

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