Hatfield line reopens after tragedy

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The Independent Online

The stretch of East Coast mainline at Hatfield where last month's fatal crash took place was reopening today after safety inspectors gave it the all-clear, Railtrack said.

The stretch of East Coast mainline at Hatfield where last month's fatal crash took place was reopening today after safety inspectors gave it the all-clear, Railtrack said.

The day's first trains in both northerly and southerly directions were using the normal route, damaged in the October 17 derailment which killed four people.

It had not been expected to reopen until next Monday but a safety train successfully tested the line after it was returned to Railtrack late last Friday.

GNER, which runs services from London to Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland, has been operating an emergency timetable since the Hatfield crash.

Railtrack boss Gerald Corbett has pledged to "blitz" the country's rail network in a bid to get it back to normal before Christmas.

But he said only one-sixth of the 300 miles of track had been replaced since Hatfield, with 250 miles still needing to be changed.

He also warned that flooding problems and work on broken and defective rails may delay certain areas, particularly the Intercity routes, until next spring.

Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday ordered rail chiefs to produce a new timetable and tell passengers what services will be running over the festive season within one week.

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