Railtrack is to offer compensation to the victims of the Potters Bar rail crash, even though no blame has yet been allocated for the disaster.
Families of the seven who died are expected to receive up to £1m, depending on their circumstances, with a further £11m distributed among the 67 who were injured. A spokeswoman said Railtrack had decided that the families of those who died in the crash and those who were injured had suffered enough and it was time to help them.
The Railtrack spokeswoman stressed that the announcement was not an admission of liability. This crash was different to others because it was proving particularly difficult to establish who was to blame.
However, Railtrack, Jarvis, – the contractors who were responsible for maintaining the points that failed in the crash – and the Strategic Rail Authority had agreed to take the lead in trying to alleviate the victims' distress with a financial package.
"The victims have had enough to deal with and it is time to help them," she said. "It's the responsible thing to do." Railtrack will be reimbursed if another company is found to be responsible.
Normally, no payments are made after an accident on the railways in which people are injured until the insurers for the companies responsible have accepted liability.
Railtrack will reportedly start paying out compensation immediately on claims as they are received.
* Virgin confirmed it is to lay on special trains for Labour delegates travelling to the party's annual conference in Blackpool so they can avoid disruption on the west coast main line. For the next 18 weeks, other weekend passengers on the west coast route will face lengthy delays with buses shuttling them between Hemel Hempstead and Milton Keynes.