Friday, February 23, 2007

UK - train crash - 9 carriages derailed

Within two hours the BBC had pictures and reporters on scene

A Virgin train travelling from Euston to Glasgow has crashed in Cumbria near the Scottish border. Police and emergency services received the first call at 20:26. The BBC has reported that some carriages have rolled down the embankment near to Grayrigg, a small village in a rural area. A police spokesman speaking to the BBC was unable to confirm the numbers of casualties or how many carriages had fallen from the line. He did say that a liaison point had been set up at Glasgow station for relatives. Another police spokesperson, Inspector Mairi Stamper of Glasgow Police, told the BBC that up to four carriages may have fallen down the embankment. Four RAF helicopters have been dispatched to the scene as well as a number of other emergency vehicles.

The 17:15 service, a Pendolino, train was described as being six to eight carriages long by Sky News. The BBC speculated that is may have hit an obstruction, or that a rail may have broken, or even that it may have travelled too fast. The train concerned was capable of travelling at 120 mph. The train was travelling through an area marked at 95 mph. A BBC executive who was on the train gave some of the first hand accounts of how the crash happened and the aftermath. Caroline Thompson told the studio she was standing in a muddy field and that it was pitch black but from she could see at least one carriage was upside-down. She said that some people were trapped under one carriage. The mobile phone pictures she had sent to her employees have remained the only photographs on the TV news. Sky had to rely on a map for several hours. Jane Little a BBC reporter that had made it to the scene said she had seen a number of people carried away on stretchers. Her report broke up as the mobile phone signal juddered. But in her broken reportage she described a very dark and bleak scene. It was not raining but she said it was damp. The train had crashed near a tiny village called Docker and the roads were tiny. She said she had seen at least 5 persons stretchered away and a tractor attempting to pull an ambulance from the mud. Although many people have been ferried away from the scene there are not believed to be any fatalities. The exact number of people involved is unknown and the ambulance service could only confirm some persons were still trapped. They also said all nine carriages had derailed and that two people had been conveyed to hospital. A significant number of walking wounded. Around 50 ambulance personnel were on the scene dealing with the incident. They had accounted for 48 passengers of a full compliment of for the train was 180 according to the BBC. The most serious injury was described as head and back injuries. But the spokesperson said there had been no reports as yet of life-threatening injuries. There was a train incident in the same area in February 2004 when a sleeper transporter trolley with defective brakes carrying 16 tonnes of rails became detached from a maintenance train south of Carlisle and rolled down the falling gradient until it struck and killed 4 workmen in a team repairing the line at Tebay, just north of Penrith. The owner of the sleeper transporter truck (a contractor working for Network Rail) was subsequently prosecuted. Since 2000 there have been a significant number of crashes including the Potters Bar and Hatfield train crashes which jointly killed 11 and injured dozens more. One of the worst UK rail accidents was the Ladbrook Grove crash which killed 31 [List of British rail accidents]. Rail crashes so far this last seven years has killed 42. The British Transport Police have released an emergency number which the BBC gave out shortly after 22:44 GMT – 0800 40 50 40. [BBC / Sky News]

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