Rail horror inquest told train ‘lurched’
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.