Two held over deaths of rail workers hit by wagon

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The Independent Online

Two men were arrested yesterday on suspicion of the manslaughter of four rail workers killed by a runaway wagon last month.

A senior manager, 42, from Anglesey, North Wales, and a machine operator, 27, from Maidstone, Kent, were being interviewed by a British Transport Police at a police station in Lancashire.

The older man is believed to work for Mac Machinery Services. It emerged yesterday that the company that supplied the 17-ton wagon to the contractor had been banned from the network. A licence allowing Hewden plant hire to operate rail vehicles was revoked a year ago after it was found that the company kept no centralised records about the state of equipment. The ban did not prevent it supplying equipment to others with operating certificates, such as Mac Machinery.

In the accident last month, the trolley broke free and travelled at up to 40mph for four miles down the main line at Tebay, Cumbria, before crashing into the track workers. Chris Walters, 53, Colin Buckley, 49, Darren Burgess, 30, and Gary Tindall, 46, were killed. Three others were injured.

It is not yet clear whether the brake on the trolley was faulty or incorrectly applied.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union, said the incident drew attention to the "galaxy of contractors and subcontractors" in the industry, and added that there was no consistent application of safety standards.