Warning over track hours before fatal train crash

Brian Farmer,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 07:52

A rail worker warned of a potential problem with points 16 hours before a train derailed - but the warning "slipped the mind" of a ticket seller in a station office, an inquest heard today.

Seven people died and more than 70 were hurt when the 1245 London to King's Lynn, Norfolk, train hit faulty points south of the station at Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, at 1pm on May 10 2002, jurors have been told.

Two passengers had raised concerns after experiencing "rough rides" on the evening of May 9 2002, the inquest in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, has heard.

Station announcer Terence Moore, who worked at Finsbury Park station in north London, today told jurors that he was a passenger on a train which left Finsbury Park at around 9pm on May 9 2002 and headed north.

He said he felt "violent" jolts as he travelled over points south of the station at Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, and feared a "lethal" accident.

Mr Moore said he raised the alarm when he arrived at Stevenage, Hertfordshire - where he lived - telling ticket seller Derek Jackson the "exact location" and adding: "Report it."

But Mr Jackson today told jurors that he forgot.

A lawyer asked: "The conversation slipped your mind?"

Mr Jackson, now a retail sales assistant at the railway station in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, replied: "It did, yes."

Mr Jackson said he had not been trained in what to do if passengers reported "rough rides" - either before or since the accident.

Six passengers - Austen Kark, Emma Knights, Jonael Schickler, Alexander Ogunwusi, Chia Hsin Lin and Chia Chin Wu - and pedestrian Agnes Quinlivan died as a result of the crash.

The inquest, which began today in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, is expected to end later this summer.

Mr Moore said he felt two "jolts" as his train approached the Potters Bar station.

"It was a rougher ride than normal over those points," he told jurors. "It was a lot more violent."

He said he was concerned and reported the problem as soon as he got off the train at Stevenage.

"It concerned me so much I made my way to the ticket office, spoke to a member of the ticket office staff and asked him to contact the station supervisor and report a rough ride," added Mr Moore.

"I gave him the exact location and asked him to report it to the supervisor.

"He said 'I will try if I can', or words to that effect."

Mr Moore said he was "not at all" satisfied with the ticket seller's response.

Jurors heard that Mr Jackson had told police Mr Moore "seemed very concerned".

But today Mr Jackson told the inquest that Mr Moore "hadn't seemed to come across as really urgent".

"There just didn't seem to be from his point of view a great urgency," said Mr Jackson. "He seemed fairly concerned."

Mr Jackson was asked by a lawyer if he thought the report was worth taking more seriously?

"In an ideal world, I believe yes I would have done," he added.

"I was just basically seeing to my work. Serving passengers and getting on with my job."

He said lessons had been learned and told jurors: "Of course we have learned lessons after this incident, of course we have. Not to take anything like this for granted."

The hearing continues.

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