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Major Train crash in Cumbria - Virgin Pendelino LIVE UPDATES
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Sat Feb 24, 2007 11:07 am Reply and quote this post
I managed to get access to the scene itself today, and have to some extent analysed the situation.

A police representative said that points could be of significance in the inquiry, although, personally with new safety equipment a "failure to stop at red light" incident is highly unlikely due to human error. Obviously, maintainable is ongoing on the WCML (West Coast Main Line), but no maintenance was being carried out at the time and no problems were reported. A Broken Rail (although unlikely), or faulty points  may be a possible cause. The points were last serviced earlier this month, and that track maintenance was carried out by Network Rail employees, not a private contractor. There is much damage to the rail itself possibly indicating point failure, and replacement will be needed causing possible closure over weeks to come. A points failure can obviously be due to various causes, but clearly there is a possibility that it has been something which has occurred which Network Rail is responsible fo.

he train, unit 390033 "City of Glasgow" had 9 carriages. From what I saw most injuries were in the leading car (The driving unit), this has seen most movement and looks as though it has been subject to derailment or collision and folded back on itself; it is quite some way from the rest of the train which has just suffered inevitable, less severe derailment.

The units were relatively safe, consequences (could have but probably wouldn't have been) different if the train has been a diesel train, and the cars in the units are relatively intact, with no damage to glass and body. Firemen knew how to work the emergency control panels to open the doors and evacuate people and no windows or doors needed to be smashed to gain access, even in the driving cars.

Most if not all injuries were in the first car (driving car) incorrectly sometimes called the locomotive, because the pendeliono is a class 390 EMU unit. When introducing the pendelionos, Virgin Trains had a rule changed (arguing that safety was now better) that meant in a train travelling at over 100mph was not allowed to have people seated in the first carriage; just luggage ( DVT driving van trailer) or a locomotive before these EMUs or DEMUS (Voyagers) were used. This ruling was obviously on cost effective grounds, and also possibly on improved construction and safety(?).

Construction of these virgin trains is very good, despite what the BBC were trying to say when stressing the trains were "new and tilting", these trains use technology developed singe the APT in the 1970s tested in the same area, and specially built for the WCML; and meeting stringent new safety requirements; becked up by the aforementioned good state of the unit. The that the accident could have been much worse if it had involved an older train (Mk2 or earlier).

Surrounding roads are closed by police blocks, although press and supplies/services/Network Rail can gain access.

Virgin Trains have suspended services between Lancaster and Lockerbie, with replacement buses operating. Trains are running as normal to and from Lockerbie, and between London and Lancaster. Lockerbie as opposed to Carlisle is being used due to congestion due to engineering work causing cancellations on 2 other lines in the Carlisle.

The recovery looks to be difficult, and will probably involve rail cranes.

UPDATE: An areal photo on channel 4 news showed bolts loose on the points, and they suspect investigators know the cause but are not making it clear yet.

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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Sun Feb 25, 2007 1:26 pm Reply and quote this post
Looks like the BBC programme Top Gear is in for a bit of a slating, tonight at 8:00pm they will show a staged train crash.

The BBC had considered pulling the item from Sunday night's episode, but now says it will be shown.

To me this is an over reaction to the train crash near to Tebay this weekend.  Although Margaret Masson, 84, of Glasgow died due to the train crash are we getting to a point when a television programme cant show a piece about a train crash? I should inform you that this was completely incidental, the fact that Top Gear had shot this for their programme tonight, what do you think? should they show this?

EDIT Sam England: The Top Gear programming was standard for the level crossing campaign (well publicised). Jeremy clarkson didn't take it seriously and was a complete and utter twat in presenting it.Its not a joke, and it only features in top gear to raise awareness. Its a coincidence and an ongoing campaign, crashing a light (single) but heavy class 31 locomotive in to a car on a crossing at 70mph does damage but nothing that a 1000 tonne 100mph freight train would do, let alone to the people inside. Its glamorising something very serious. This edit went on for a bit, but yes, its 01:04 lol! Its very serious and the locomotive always remains unscratched, its called heavy engineering. the car is obliterated along with anything inside it.

Contributed by William Tildesley, iVirtua Ultimate Contributor
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Sun Feb 25, 2007 7:57 pm Reply and quote this post
It is believed that the Rail Accident Investigation Branch will draw attention to the fact that nuts were missing from points on a section of track where the high-speed Virgin Pendolino train derailed, killing a grandmother and seriously injuring 11 other passengers.

Industry sources told the Guardian that nuts were found lying next to the set of points on the stretch of track just before the Glasgow-bound train crashed. It emerged yesterday that the points, used to switch trains from one track to another, were only used during maintenance, raising the suspicion that the bolts had somehow been dislodged during recent engineering work on the track.

Speculation across the rail industry suggested that a tamping machine, used to bed down stones that line the rail tracks, passed through the crash area in Grayrigg on Tuesday or Wednesday of last week and may have damaged the points, though this was dismissed as rumour by Network Rail, the private company that owns the British rail infrastructure.

Network Rail is expected to receive initial findings today and if, as expected, the early report links the crash to a track maintenance error, the strong echoes of the Potters Bar crash of 2002, which left seven dead, will strengthen calls for the government to order a public inquiry.

Railways expert Christian Wolmar said: "From what I understand, they have found these points in a similar condition to those at Potters Bar, with some missing nuts and the stretcher bar, which keeps the rails properly apart, apparently loosened."

Network Rail moved to reassure travellers yesterday. Its chief executive, John Armitt, confirmed that a precautionary check of 700 points across the country had found "nothing out of the ordinary".

Mick Cash, of the RMT union, said the crash highlighted the union's concerns about the number of workers and sub-contractors from private companies who have access to rail tracks. The RMT estimates that 92,500 people have security passes for the rail network. "There are often complaints from our guys that so many people get access to tracks that no one knows who is doing what. Network Rail knows which employees were working near the site. The big question is whether in the last three weeks work has been carried out in the vicinity and if so, who by?"

The rail network will have had a record 26bn invested in it between 2004 and 2009. Network Rail inherited the network from Railtrack, the now-defunct stock market-listed company that was criticised in the investigation following the 1999 Ladbroke Grove crash for using too many private contractors. Network Rail repairs are done in-house.

Salvage teams struggled in a quagmire throughout yesterday to lay a temporary road to the site of the crash. Heavy lifting equipment is not now expected to clear the debris - eight carriages and the engine and tonnes of ballast and earth swept away as they slid down embankments - until tomorrow. Chief Superintendent Martyn Ripley of British Transport Police said the remoteness of the site made the operation "a logistical nightmare".

Speaking at Grayrigg village hall, where 85 uninjured passengers were given tea by local people and emergency workers, he said: "We need to get very big and heavy specialist equipment on to the site to lift the carriages, which will also clear the way for a detailed search. We are preparing for an operation which will take days."

British Transport Police have found no evidence of terrorism or vandals attacking the line. The train's driver, Iain Black, was spoken to by officers after undergoing an operation on his neck. Two data recorders on the 5.15 Friday service from Euston will be analysed today.

Mr Black, 46, and five other severely injured victims are now out of danger. None has life-threatening injuries and at this stage it is not thought any will be left with paralysis. Mr Black and Margaret Langley and Richard Langley, 61 and 63, from Southport, remain in a serious condition at Preston, while Richard Blakemore, 54, from Reading, and Graeme Stewart, 28, an IT consultant from London, are said to be comfortable. Mrs Langley's mother, Margaret "Peggy" Masson, 84, from Glasgow, died in the accident.

Consultant Andrew Curran, head of the emergency medicine team dealing with the most serious cases, said that from the descriptions given to him by doctors who were at the crash scene, he was surprised the injuries were not more serious.

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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