Car Plunges into Path of Express; YORKSHIRE TRAIN DISASTER;Driver Dialled 999 and Yelled: The Train's Coming

By Adamson, Colin; Benham, Mark et al. | The Evening Standard (London, England), February 28, 2001 | Go to article overview

Car Plunges into Path of Express; YORKSHIRE TRAIN DISASTER;Driver Dialled 999 and Yelled: The Train's Coming


Adamson, Colin, Benham, Mark, Gusmaroli, Danielle, Harris, Ed, Murray, Dick, Ramsay, Allan, Sturgis, John, Wallace, Sam, Hind, Graham, Selwyn, Ian Key. Pictures: Jeremy, Giles, John, Davies, David, Chung, Dan, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: COLIN ADAMSON;MARK BENHAM;DANIELLE GUSMAROLI;ED HARRIS;DICK MURRAY;ALLAN RAMSAY;JOHN STURGIS;SAM WALLACE;GRAHAM HIND;IAN KEY. PICTURES: JEREMY SELWYN;JOHN GILES;DAVID DAVIES;DAN CHUNG

AT LEAST 13 people were killed and 76 injured today when a London-bound main line train was derailed by a Land Rover and trailer which tumbled on the track.

Rescue workers fear the number of dead could rise when heavy equipment arrives to prise open one, as yet unsearched, carriage squashed to a height of only two feet. Around 100 people were on board the Newcastle to King's Cross express.

Nine of the injured are in a critical or serious condition, with injuries ranging from crushed spines and chests to multiple fractures.

The disaster happened at Great Heck near Selby, North Yorkshire, at 6.12am when the Land Rover, towing a Renault on the trailer, suffered a blow-out on the M62. The vehicles careered off a motorway bridge and blocked the East Coast main line track. According to Railtrack, the driver, travelling at 125mph, saw the vehicle on the track but was unable to stop in time.

The Railtrack spokesman said the impact knocked the train off the rails but it continued to travel upright for about half a mile until it was met head-on by a freight train loaded with 1,000 tonnes of coal, travelling at 75mph. The freight train driver realised the danger but could not prevent the collision.

"This seems to have been a tragic accident which had appalling consequences," the spokesman added. "The damage to the passenger train is horrendous and the casualties extremely heavy. It is a scene of absolute devastation. Carriages have been overturned, they have gone down the embankment and into a field near the track."

He said the Land Rover driver appeared to have walked away virtually unhurt and dialled 999, shouting: "The train's coming!" to the operator.

"He tried to warn the oncoming train but could do nothing to prevent the impact," the spokesman added.

The 36-year-old Lincolnshire man, who is being interviewed by police, could only watch helplessly as the express ploughed through his vehicle and trailer. The carnage shocked even the most hardened rescue workers.

Survivors led shaking into ambulances and helicopters told of the horror.

One said: "I was all right but a woman sitting opposite me was thrown through the air. We spun round and came to a stop. One passenger was covered in blood."

Trauma teams from hospitals in York, Hull, Leeds and Pontefract went to the scene as fire crews using cutting gear attempted to free passengers.

Firefighters reported that desperate knocking was heard from one twisted carriage. "We are concentrating on rescuing these people. It's a chaotic scene," a Humberside Fire Brigade spokesman said. "On the Inter-City Express all 10 carriages are involved, four seriously. Our crews are still searching all the carriages for casualties. …

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