'I feel there are ghosts whenever we go by'

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She sat on a pull-down seat in the corridor between two train carriages, tears in her eyes, nervously fiddling with an empty crisp packet, and haunted by ghosts from Ladbroke Grove.

She sat on a pull-down seat in the corridor between two train carriages, tears in her eyes, nervously fiddling with an empty crisp packet, and haunted by ghosts from Ladbroke Grove.

A year ago yesterday, Carol Edwards, 19, a student from Reading, was travelling on the doomed 06.03 First Great Western service, which started its journey at Cheltenham Spa and ended in tragedy at Ladbroke Grove, two miles outside Paddington. The train was cancelled yesterday as a sign of respect. Ms Edwards, who took the next train, only mustered enough courage to travel on the anniversary because her mother, Sheila, 43, agreed to accompany her.

''I was going to college, it was the first week of my first year,'' said Ms Edwards, who, as last year, was travelling to the British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy in London. ''There was a big thump, then lots of little ones, and then an explosion. Fire was flying past. I couldn't get out because the doors were locked. There was silence, then screaming, then silence again. Somebody got the door open and we jumped out. People were shouting, 'Watch the power lines!'. I ran to the other side of the track.''

Ms Edwards suffered severe whiplash injuries and nerve damage, and had to take eight weeks off college. The psychological damage, however, remains. Every morning when she catches the train she spends the journey on the phone to her mother. ''I'm forgetful and scared of the dark. I hate travelling by train. I hate the smell of the brakes. I hate it when the train slows down. I'm hypersensitive to everything, I'm angry and I'm jumpy at loud noises. It tires you out in the end.

''I feel nervous now,'' she said, her eyes filling with tears again. ''I just don't want it to happen again. It's not fair that people should die for other people's mistakes. I've onlygot three years left of my course, then I won't have to travel on trains. I feel there are ghosts whenever we go through Ladbroke Grove, that's the worst bit. I have to look out the window just to check that it hasn't happened again. I feel guilty that I'm still alive. Why did God choose me, and the others died?"

At 08.11, the time of last year's accident, a hush fell over the train. ''It's a bit sombre down there,'' said the senior conductor indicatingtowards coach H, the first-class carriage that bore the brunt of the impact. John Murray, 40, a headteacher from Stroud, said a prayer.

Patrick Gearon, 33, a solicitor from Stroud, said: "Every day as you go past Ladbroke Grove you just think how awful it was. The only difference I've noticed is that the train slows down more now. It gets so packed there's only standing room in first class, and that probably had a lot to do withthe amount of people who died. And that hasn't changed."

In the buffet car, Alex Kennard, 35, an events producer from Longworth, Oxfordshire, said: ''It's all on our minds. I just feel sorry and send my respects to the people who lost their lives and their families.

"Everybody is nervous. It sticks in the back of people's mind. Everyone's aware of it, though nobody's saying anything. Some of them could have been on the train, me included. It was just luck that I wasn't. I've got a tickling feeling in my tummy, it's nerves.''

After looking uneasily out of the window as the train passed through Ladbroke Grove, Ms Edwards broke into a smile when she got out at Paddington. "I'm slightly more relieved, but I don't think I've put it behind me," she said. "I won't be able to until the train companies do something."

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