Virgin train crashes in England

Friday, February 23, 2007

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Aftermath of the derailment.

A 9 Carriage Class 390 Pendolino train, with as many as 180 people onboard, operated by Virgin Trains has derailed and crashed in Cumbria, England.

The train was the 17:15 service from London's Euston Station to Glasgow Central. Witnesses said that several passengers have broken bones. All but one carriage have slid down the embankment and all of the carriages were derailed. 5 people are still seriously injured in hospital, including the driver Ian Black, and 11 people altogether are still in hospital. Hospital reports early on Saturday morning indicate 1 death, 84 year old lady Margaret Masson from Glasgow.

"It's our understanding there are a number of people injured on the train. We think there are numerous injuries," said a spokesman for the Cumbria Fire and Rescue squad, Brian Mitchelhill.

"A train has crashed between Oxenholme and Tebay, but that is all we know at the moment. We have got two cars travelling there now and local police are attending," said a spokeswoman for the British Transport Police.

At least twelve ambulances and at least five fire trucks are at the scene, along with 3 Royal Air Force Sea King helicopters, two mountain rescue teams and one police helicopter. The rescue effort was hampered by limited access to the remote site and poor weather conditions.

"At the moment, we have reports of various injuries, from leg injuries to back injuries and head injuries -- ranging from minor to quite serious," said an unnamed ambulance official.

Virgin West Coast Class 390 Pendolino EMU 390009 at platform 1 of Carlisle railway station.

"The carriage I am in is completely on its side, it did a sort of bump - and I was thinking don't worry this fine - but then the swaying became very dramatic," said a BBC executive, Caroline Thomson. "Where I am there are some injuries - a woman with a very badly hurt back but I suspect further up the train it's a bit more serious."

First reports suggested that the train hit something on the track at 20:15 near Grayrigg, between Oxenholme and Tebay, derailed and slid down an embankment. Early investigators reports say a set of points will be the primary focus of the investigation. All but one of the train's carriages are said to have totally come off the tracks, a spokeswoman said.

So far 12 passengers have been taken to The Royal Preston Hospital, where three casualties are said to be in a "critical condition" and one serious. 3 passengers with limb injuries are at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. People with minor injuries were taken to a nearby farm before being transferred to a Kendal hotel.

As of 22:16, Sleeper services over the affected line have been suspended. Other major services are terminating at Preston or Carlisle according to (UK) National Rail Enquires. A five mile cordon has been set up to seal the crash site as investigators from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch attempt to determine the cause of the crash.

Virgin owner Richard Branson came to the site from his holiday in Switzerland and held a press conference at a safe distance, roughly 200 meters, from the site. Branson stated that the Virgin Train Pendolino was "built like a tank", and believed the track was to blame. All of the carriages retained their integrity and none of the windows broke. Mr Branson also praised the driver of the train for attempting to stop the train and not leaving the cockpit.

Network Rail has checked 700 sets of rail points in response to the accident, though no speed restrictions have been imposed.

British Transport Police Contact Number 0800 40 50 40


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