Warnings about Potters Bar line 'were ignored'

Inquest begins into rail crash eight years ago that killed seven people

Concerns about "rough rides" at Potters Bar were raised by two passengers the night before the 2002 rail crash which killed seven people, an inquest heard yesterday.

One of the commuters, an employee of West Anglia Great Northern railway, raised the issue with fellow members of staff, but they either ignored or misinterpreted his concerns. Another passenger reported "violent lurches" on the same stretch of line, but his complaint was also never investigated.

The missed warnings were revealed at the full inquest that began in Hertfordshire yesterday, more than eight years after the crash that killed Austen Kark, Emma Knights, Jonael Schickler, Alexander Ogunwusi, Chia Hsin Lin, Chia Chin Wu and Agnes Quinlivan on 10 May, 2002.

The jury heard that Terence Moore, a train announcer, had been travelling home the night before the crash when he noticed "jolting" and "movement" as the train passed through Potters Bar at about 9pm.

He reported his concerns to a member of staff at the ticket office in Stevenage, but the man, Derek Jackson, "was busy and didn't treat the matter as urgent and failed to log a report", the judge, Michael Baker QC, told the jury. "He forgot about the conversation," the judge added. "In short, he did nothing."

When Mr Moore arrived at his home in Finsbury Park, north London, he phoned his supervisor and then called signal officers at King's Cross Station. But the complaint was misunderstood by the duty supervisor and a team of inspectors were sent to observe trains on the wrong line.

The same evening another passenger, Peter Prime, who travelled the route frequently, told a buffet steward that he had experienced "violent lurches" as the train passed through Potters Bar. The steward said he would report it to the train manager, but his complaint was not acted upon.

The inquest also heard about the moments before and after the crash. The jury was told that as the 12.45pm King's Cross to Kings Lynn train passed through Potters Bar at 98mph, the train driver "described feeling a dragging sensation and a series of sharp jolts".

About 150 metres before reaching the station, the last carriage of the train derailed and mounted the platform. During the crash, heavy weights used to keep tension in the overhead lines smashed through the windows of the carriage, killing four passengers.

Six passengers – including four of those killed – were thrown from the window on to the platform and track. Ms Quinlivan was walking underneath a bridge when the crash happened. She was killed by falling masonry, dislodged when the carriage hit the bridge. A further 76 people were injured.

The judge said the train was travelling at a legal speed and that the driver, Gordon Gibson, had been cleared of blame. He said jurors would be asked to decide when, where and how each of the victims died. He said the final question would be considered in more depth than at most inquests because of public concern about the crash.

Before yesterday's inquest began, MP James Clappison, whose Hertsmere constituency includes Potters Bar, expressed anger at the eight-year delay between the crash and the inquest. He said transport ministers had "used every excuse" to delay a public investigation.

"I think it is scandalous that people have had to wait so long. I think there should have been a public inquiry. It is not satisfactory that relatives have had to wait eight years to hear the facts aired in public. I hope lessons are learned and there is never such a long wait again," he said.

Mr Clappison's concerns were echoed by the judge as he opened the inquest, which is expected to last up to three months. Mr Baker said delays had been caused partly by debate over a public inquiry and by investigations into another rail crash at Grayrigg, Cumbria, in 2007.

"This inquest takes place against a background of delay," he told the jury. "Eight years ago [is] a very long time indeed. Time in which memories will have faded. Time in which witnesses will have become unavailable or indeed have died. Far too much time, you may instinctively feel, for bereaved families to be deprived of any sort of real closure."

The hearing continues.

world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice