England: Train Crash Kills 13, Injures Dozens

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Wed Feb 28, 10:02 am

Train crash kills 13, injures dozens in England

At least 13 people are dead and as many as 70 injured after a train crash in northern England on Wednesday.

Dozens of ambulances were on the scene as rescue workers struggle to remove about 60 passengers from the twisted wreckage of a high-speed train that was travelling from Newcastle to London loaded with commuters. Helicopters ferried injured people to hospital.

The crash happened in the community of Great Heck, near the town of Selby, about 300 kilometres from London.

Early reports say a truck slid off an icy road at about 6 a.m. and collided with the nine-car passenger train, causing it to derail. The train was then struck by a freight train loaded with coal travelling in the opposite direction.

Witnesses said passenger cars were tangled in a field next to the rail line after falling down an embankment.

A man who lives near the crash scene and phoned local radio stations to tell them what happened.

"All I can see from here, poking out, is the engine of one train," said Graham Brockelsby. "Quite a lot of mangled wreckage on the other side. You can't get nowhere near because there's obviously no access."

Great North Eastern Railway, the company that owns the passenger train, said about 100 passengers were on board.

The crash is yet another blow to Britain's beleaguered railways although the circumstances of this accident are different from a series of rail disasters in recent years.

Wednesday's crash occurred on part of the east coast mainline from London to Edinburgh the same line on which four people were killed last October when a high-speed train hit a broken rail and derailed.

After that accident, speed restrictions were implemented and the country's rail system was disrupted as cracked rails were replaced.

And in 1999, 31 people died when a train missed a signal outside London's Paddington station.

Wednesday's crash was apparently the result of a freak sequence of events, but some have already asked why a high-speed rail line runs alongside a busy highway without proper guard rails to prevent just such an occurrence.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), February 28, 2001

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