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2000: Four dead in Hatfield rail crash

VIDEO : Passengers describe the moment of Hatfield crash

Four people have been confirmed dead after a high speed passenger train derailed in Hatfield, just north of London.

The train, carrying around 200 passengers, was travelling at 115mph when it came off the tracks causing many of the carriages to be tipped over.

An investigation has been launched by British Transport Police who say that the work of terrorists or vandals cannot be ruled out.

A bomb threat relating to the track between King's Cross and Peterborough was received on Sunday but officials say injuries are not consistent with an explosion.

The dead are thought to have been travelling in the buffet car which had its roof ripped off in the derailment.

Injured passengers were mainly described as walking wounded but 30 have been taken to nearby hospitals.

"I just held on for dear life"

Passenger Stephen Morgan

A spokesman for the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital said the majority of casualties had suffered "lumps, bumps and fractures".

Passengers on the train have been speaking about their experiences. Stephen Morgan said: "I was walking towards the bar and heard a bang, then the train started swaying and it went over."

"I just held on for dear life. The carriage I was in was a bit busted up but nobody was really badly injured where I was."

GNER spokesman Alan Hyde said: "We have to keep an open mind, our priorities are just with dealing with the incident as it unfolds. Our thoughts go out to the families of those involved."

Phil Heath, a spokesman for Railtrack, confirmed that the train "was on the correct line, and the signalling equipment appeared to have been working normally."

The government has expressed its shock at the crash which comes just over a year after 31 people died in the Paddington rail crash.

Transport minister Lord MacDonald said: "My thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed and injured and I extend my heartfelt condolences to all concerned."

He also promised a full investigation would be carried out saying that Health and Safety Executive investigators were already at the scene.

In Context
Investigations into the Hatfield crash found the cause was a cracked rail.

The discovery of the crack led Railtrack to embark on a huge programme of rail checks and replacement.

Speed limits were imposed across the network to allow work to be carried out causing all timetables to be changed.

In 2001 the government refused to continue to help Railtrack with its spiralling repair bill and, on the order of then Transport Secretary Stephen Byers, Railtrack went into administration.

The High Court allowed Railtrack to be taken out of administration in 2002 so that Network Rail could take over.

In September 2005 Network Rail was found guilty of breaching health and safety legislation over the crash. It was fined 3.5m and maintenance firm Balfour Beatty 10m. There were both ordered to pay 300,000 in costs.

Web Links
BBC News Online - Safety on the Railways |  BBC News Online - State of the Railways
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