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The BBC's Richard Bilton reports
"Sarah ferried people into her home which became a treatment centre for up to 30 people"
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The BBC's Robert Hall
"This half-mile of empty track is now classified as a crime scene"
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Lord Macdonald, Transport Minister
"The priority for us must be better maintenance"
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Wednesday, 18 October, 2000, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Crash track was 'not good'

Hatfield crash
A preliminary crash report is due by the end of the week

Railtrack has admitted that the condition of the track involved in the Hatfield train crash was "not good".

Four people were killed and 35 were injured when a lunchtime London to Leeds Great North Eastern Railway train was derailed in Hertfordshire on Tuesday.

The company's board was due to meet at 1800 BST on Wednesday to consider whether to accept the resignation of chief executive Gerald Corbett, who says he is "personally distraught" that another rail tragedy had occurred.

Railtrack chief executive Gerald Corbett
Gerald Corbett: "Personally distraught"

But Pam Warren, of the Paddington Survivors Group, has urged Railtrack not to accept Mr Corbett's resignation.

"I have spoken to Gerald Corbett and his wife, he is genuinely upset and very affected on a personal level. If he feels able to continue we call on him to work with us to urgently address the problems of rail safety," she said.

Railtrack said the section of the line had been re-assessed for re-railing in January and that work had started in May.

The balance of the work was due to have been completed in November and the crash section of track had been treated for grinding in early September to prevent cracks, the company said.

Railtrack said the rail in question was only five years old, having been replaced in 1995.

It added that the rail was made of "mill-heat treated steel, a specially hardened material suitable for use on high-speed curves such as that at Hatfield".

The company said the crash stretch of track was visually inspected on 10 October 10.

"We are investigating all of these areas, including the quality of maintenance procedures," added Railtrack.

Initial findings from the fingertip search are expected to be made public by the end of the week.

Speed restrictions

The GNER service from Kings Cross to Leeds was travelling at almost 115 mph - the approved speed for that stretch of track - when the crash happened at 1225 BST on Tuesday.

Railtrack has now imposed speed restrictions on trains travelling along any high-speed bends, like that at the Hatfield crash site.

We have an immense amount to do to address the causes of both small accidents and cataclysmic accidents

Vernon Hince, RMT union

Stan Hart, principal inspector of railways for the Health and Safety Inspectorate said: "At the moment we are concentrating on the state of the track and the state of the vehicle."

He added that it was unlikely the crash had anything to do with faulty signals or vandalism.

A faulty train wheel also looked unlikely, said a spokesman for GNER.

Injured leave hospital

Work was carried out by floodlight overnight to remove the bodies of the four people who died.

Those in hospital
Salisbury woman, 60
South east London man, 41
Wakefield woman, 30
Harrogate woman, 66
Nottingham woman, 40
London woman, 38
Sheffield woman, 40

Seven of the 35 people injured in the crash spent a "comfortable" night at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welywn Garden City.

Three people are expected to be released later, while four more seriously injured patients could be fit to leave in a few days' time.

One of the survivors still at the hospital also lived through the horror of the Soho nail bomb attack.

gary fellows
Gary Fellows: Broken leg

Gary Fellows, of Tower Bridge, London, who broke a leg in the crash, escaped with slight injuries in the blast at the Admiral Duncan pub.

The 41-year-old was on his way to Peterborough for his father's 80th birthday when the crash happened.

"I was queuing in the buffet car and suddenly there was a bang and it actually felt under my feet like the train had hit something," he told the BBC.

"And then there was an horrendous noise, really violent shaking and I presumed that it had come off the rails."

Transport minister Lord Macdonald told GMTV on Wednesday that he was looking for an answer to what caused the Hatfield train crash within hours or days rather than weeks.

Safety fears

The possibility of driver error seems to have been ruled out after police interviewed and bloodtested the man at the controls in Tuesday's crash. He escaped without injury.

Mr Garnett, confirmed that a trainee driver was also in the cab.

There was no other train involved and GNER officials said the track and rolling stock were inspected frequently.

Carriage in bushes
Two carriages toppled onto their sides
Seven of the 11 carriages left the tracks. The buffet car and one other carriage fell onto their sides.

A Hertfordshire Police spokeswoman said the four people who died were four men who were believed to have been in the buffet car.

Trains services to and from King's Cross are subject to delays.

All trains are bypassing the crash scene adding 30 minutes to intercity journeys, but less on shorter routes.

The latest Railtrack speed restrictions mean that high speed trains will be travelling at two-thirds of their normal limit on certain stretches of track.