Rail horror in­quest told train ‘lurched’

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Uk&world Update -

A WOR­RIED city man tried to raise con­cerns about pas­sen­ger safety the day be­fore seven peo­ple died in the Pot­ters bar rail crash, an in­quest heard.

Com­pany boss Peter Prime, from Yax­ley, told ju­rors yes­ter­day how a train he was trav­el­ling on “lurched” near Pot­ters Bar, Hert­ford­shire, on the evening be­fore the crash.

Mr Prime said he told a train buf­fet car stew­ard of his con­cerns min­utes af­ter the in­ci­dent, then made two calls the fol­low­ing morn­ing in an at­tempt to alert train op­er­at­ing firm Great North East­ern Rail­way (GNER).

The in­quest in Letch­worth, Hert­ford­shire, heard that six pas­sen­gers and a pedes­trian were killed when the 12.45 London to King’s Lynn GNER train de­railed as it hit faulty points south of Pot­ters Bar sta­tion, at around 1pm on May 10, 2002. More than 70 peo­ple were hurt.

Mr Prime, who runs Prime Li­mou­sine Ser­vices in Yax­ley, said he was trav­el­ling on an 8.30pm train from London to Peter­bor­ough on May 9 when it “lurched” 15 min­utes into the jour­ney.

He told the in­quest cups and saucers slid across the ta­ble and added: “There was a very sub­stan­tial lurch. I thought it was very ab­nor­mal – the first time I had ever ex­pe­ri­enced any­thing on a train that had se­ri­ously wor­ried me.”

Mr Prime raised his con­cerns with the buf­fet stew­ard and was told the train man­ager would speak to him be­fore he got off – but no one made con­tact.

He said the fol­low­ing day he tele­phoned GNER at 8am and got an an­swer­ing ma­chine, be­fore speak­ing to a mem­ber of staff an hour later. Mr Prime said a GNER rep­re­sen­ta­tive called back and said the train had a “track­ing” prob­lem caused by wheel im­bal­ance, which was be­ing dealt with.

Ju­rors heard that a rail worker had also raised con­cerns about a points prob­lem at Pot­ters Bar on May 9.

Sta­tion an­nouncer Ter­ence Moore, who worked at Fins­bury Park sta­tion in north London, told ju­rors that he was a pas­sen­ger on a north­bound train which left Fins­bury Park at around 9pm on May 9. He said he felt “vi­o­lent” jolts south of Pot­ters Bar sta­tion 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 ask­ing him to re­port it. But Mr Jack­son yes­ter­day told ju­rors that he for­got.

Mr Moore had also re­ported his con­cerns to a man­ager in the King’s Cross sig­nal box, but the man­ager thought Mr Moore was talk­ing about the south­bound track. Checks were car­ried out on the south­bound line and noth­ing un­to­ward was no­ticed.

Other pas­sen­gers also came for­ward af­ter the crash to re­port “rough rides” at Pot­ters Bar on May 9.

The hear­ing con­tin­ues and is due to end later this sum­mer.

DIS­AS­TER: The scene of the Pot­ters Bar train crash, which killed seven peo­ple in 2002.

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