Train was 'almost derailed' as it tried to make up time

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The Independent Online

An investigation was launched yesterday after a delayed passenger train "almost derailed" as it sped into London in an attempt to make up for lost time.

Passengers were told to "hold your breath" as the commuter train made its way towards King's Cross station after a 20-minute delay.

The packed train reportedly tilted on to two wheels as it sped around a corner only metres from the site of the Hatfield derailment, which claimed four lives in 2000.

An investigation was opened by the operators West Anglia Great Northern (WAGN) and the driver was suspended, following a string of complaints from commuters.

Robert Carlile, a company director at the Almeida Theatre in Islington, north London, described the journey as "truly scary". "When we got to Letchworth, the last stop before London, the driver said that he was sorry about the delay but he added that he was going to try to get us there is quickly as possible. The train was very packed and he said 'hold your breath' as we set off."

It was as the train approached a sharp corner and reportedly failed to slow down that passengers claimed they had almost derailed after tumbling to the floor.

"Normally the turning is very noticeable as the train slows down considerably. On this occasion, it did not slow down at all.... It was a very violent turn and it really felt like the train was going to go over. We certainly all fell over."

Mr Carlile added: "When we arrived at London we all confronted the driver about this. He apologised and actually said that it was because he had been doing 56mph when he should have been doing 40mph."

A spokeswoman for WAGN said: "The driver has been suspended, which is normal procedure while incidents are being investigated. He has been tested for alcohol and drugs but it will be a few days before we have the test results.

"The driver is being interviewed and the train has been taken out of service."

¿ Cracks have been detected on at least 50 Underground trains on the Central Line, it emerged yesterday. The cracks were found on brackets which attach motors beneath the trains, according to the Rail Maritime and Transport union, which called for their removal from service. The discovery was made only months after safety modifications were made to all 85 trains on the Central Line in the aftermath of the derailment at Chancery Lane station in January in which 32 people were injured.

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