Page last updated at 07:02 GMT, Monday, 12 March 2007

Trains resume after Cumbria crash

Train crash
The carriages were removed during a massive operation

Train services have resumed along a stretch of the West Coast Main Line, which was closed by a high-speed train crash in which a woman died.

Margaret Masson, 84, from Glasgow, died and 22 others were hurt, when a Virgin Pendolino train became derailed at Grayrigg, Cumbria, on 23 February.

Rail workers have replaced 1,000 yards of track and overhead power lines.

The 0510 Virgin Trains service from Manchester to Glasgow carried the first passengers on the line on Monday.

A Virgin Trains spokesman said: "Yes, the line is absolutely fine. It opened on schedule."

Trains were limited to 50mph through the stretch near Kendal, where nine 50-tonne carriages came off the tracks at nearly 100mph.

Train driver Iain Black, 46, from Dumbarton, was badly hurt in the crash, but is recovering in the Royal Preston Hospital.

Remote site

He was hailed a hero by Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson, after it emerged he stayed at the controls as the train careered off the rails and down a steep embankment.

The remote area of the crash site meant steel and stone roads had to be built over fields to get two huge cranes close enough to lift the wreckage clear.

The carriages are now being forensically examined at a site in the Midlands by investigators from British Transport Police and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

Network Rail, which has responsibility for track maintenance, accepted an interim report from the RAIB which said faulty points were the immediate cause of the crash.

John Armitt, chief executive of Network Rail, said: "We continue to work closely with accident investigators and will leave no stone unturned as we aim to get to the truth."

Charles Belcher, Virgin West Coast managing director, added: "I welcome the reopening of the West Coast Main Line following the tragic accident at Grayrigg.

"We now need to work hard to rebuild confidence in the railway industry."

Points graphic



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