Novelist's daughter angered by failure to apologise for deaths

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The Independent Online

The daughter of the best-selling novelist Nina Bawden voiced her bitterness yesterday that no one had yet apologised for the Potters Bar train crash, in which her mother was injured and her father, Austen Kark, died.

Perdita Kark said that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report, published yesterday, highlighted the shameful state of a rail network left to rot through bad management and poor maintenance. "It has confirmed what I think everyone knew and that it was not a one-off and probably not sabotage," she said.

"It is to do with bad management, poor maintenance and a decaying railway infrastructure, which is what we all knew. In a way it is comforting, but it is also disgraceful that no one has apologised or has been accountable."

Ms Kark has not travelled on the railway since the crash and is not confident that improvements will be made. She said: "Problems have been identified and recommendations have been made ... These problems were identified years ago and the railway industry has not reacted to it.

"I would like them to turn around and accept their responsibility, apologise and settle down to the commitment that there is a lot of hard work to make the railways function in a way that makes sure there is safety before profit. They need to do it now before there are more injuries, devastation and loss of life."

Louise Christian, a lawyer who represents some of the Potters Bar families, said the HSE's findings were "alarming in the extreme". She said: "The report demonstrates in graphic terms that a decaying rail infrastructure ... is not subject to proper monitoring, maintenance or replacement."

Ms Christian said the HSE recommendations "do not even begin to address the problem". She said it had merely invited Network Rail to review its management systems. "As Network Rail and Jarvis have both refused to accept responsibility for the crash, it is not surprising that, more than a year later, they have not undertaken such a review."