Waiting and hoping in stunned silence

At the stations
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At King's Cross station, a brief message on the electronic noticeboard announced that a train derailment at Hatfield would cause severe disruption.

At King's Cross station, a brief message on the electronic noticeboard announced that a train derailment at Hatfield would cause severe disruption.

Regular commuters greeted the news with grim resignation and questioned whyinvestment to ensure that Britain's rail network was safe was so lacking.

Among those waiting in stunned silence were the cast of the stage show, Carousel, who were on their way to a performance at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, but narrowly missed the train which crashed. Actress Ruth Anderson said one member of the cast had boarded the 12.10pm but had escaped unhurt.

"She is very shaken but she was not in the part of the train that was worst affected," saidMs Anderson."She said the carriages are all over the place and they had to cut some people out."

Nine northbound trains from King's Cross were cancelled and local journeys severely disrupted, but most services - rerouted around the wreckage of the derailed train - returned to near normal with delays of up to an hour.

Andrew Potter, a 46-year-old bank manager who regularly travels on the line to Peterborough, said "They are going to have to look very closely at safety and put investment in place to make it safe for travellers to use which is not the case at the moment. The amount of investment which has gone into the infrastructure is not sufficient to keep trains running."

Other regular commuters were speculating that vandals, notorious on that stretch of the line, may have caused the carriages to derail at speed.

"I know around that area vandalism has occurred before. I have been re-routed quite a few times though they have never -given specific reasons as to why," said IT manager Mark Naylon.

At Leeds Central railway station, where the 12.10pm from King's Cross had been expected at 14.33, the electronic information screen said: "Due to an incident at Hatfield all services to and from King's Cross are subject to severe delays and cancellations."

Relatives awaiting passengers from the 12.10 were asked to "make themselves known" to station officials. It was thought that the nine crew on the train were based in the Leeds area.

Leeds MP Hilary Benn, son of former Labour minister Tony Benn, arrived at the station in anticipation of taking the ill-fated train on its return trip to London. "The mood is so awful and we know so little," he sad "GNER is considered such a safe operator as well. I'm frequently taking this service."

By 4pm the station Operations Manager for GNER in South and West Yorkshire, Kevin Powell, emerged grim-faced. But his short press conference, like a similar event in Doncaster imparted little to ease the uncertainties. "We are working with emergency services in looking to get customers to their destinations" hesaid.

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