Rail employee arrested over Cumbria train tragedy

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The Independent Online

A Network Rail employee has been arrested over the Cumbrian train crash in which an elderly woman died, police said today.

The 46-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday in connection with the investigation into the crash at Grayrigg in Cumbria on 23 February, which also left dozens injured.

He has been released on police bail until 31 October, British Transport Police said.

The Network Rail employee under arrest is from the Preston area, a British Transport Police spokesman said. He would not reveal what crime the 46-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of committing.

One woman died and five others were seriously hurt as several train carriages left the track when the Virgin pendolino crashed in Cumbria.

The train had about 120 people on board and was travelling at around 95mph from London to Glasgow when the accident happened around 8.15pm on 23 February.

Around 22 people were taken to hospital with dozens more walking wounded. Police and accident investigators immediately launched an inquiry into the cause of the crash.

Margaret Masson, 84, from Cardonald, Glasgow, was killed, while further disaster was averted by train driver, Iain Black, who stayed at the controls during the high speed crash.

Mr Black, 46, from Dumbarton, was later hailed a hero by Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson.

Mr Black described the train as like a "violent bucking bronco" as the carriages hurtled off the track.

Mr Black spent two hours trapped in his cab before he could be rescued. He later spent weeks in hospital for treatment to serious head, neck and back injuries.

The West Coast Main Line London to Scotland service was closed for around a week after the disaster.

A set of points near the site of the train crash was later found to be faulty, an initial report stated.

Investigators found one of three "stretcher bars" was not in position, two were fractured and bolts were missing.

The bars joined the moving rails, keeping them a set distance apart.

John Armitt, chief executive of Network Rail, said his organisation was "devastated" by the report and offered an unreserved apology.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said in its report that there was no complete stretcher bar in place between the switch rails immediately before the derailment.

One of the bars was possibly fractured before the crash and one after, it said.

There was no evidence to indicate the driving of the train or the condition of the train were factors in the crash.

It also said there was evidence that the last scheduled inspection of the points, known as Lambrigg 2B, on February 18 did not take place.

Sir Richard Branson later praised Network Rail for its response to the crash.

He said: "It is not for us to apportion blame but rather to work closer together as train operating companies with all our partners in the industry, particularly Network Rail, to ensure that this never happens again."

After the crash Andy Trotter, deputy chief constable of British Transport Police (BTP), said they would not rule out criminal charges.

A forensic examination was carried out at the crash site over several days by BTP, the RAIB and the Railway Inspectorate.