Rail crash survivor appeals against ‘holding witch hunt’
The Herald: February 28 2007
A survivor of the Cumbrian train derailment appealed for "calm thinking" last night as pressure grew for a public inquiry into the fatal accident.
Elizabeth Christie, 51, from Cumbernauld, near Glasgow, said she wanted any investigation to concentrate on building passenger confidence rather than attributing blame.
An interim report has said faulty points caused the accident which killed Margaret Masson, 84, and put 22 others in hospital.
Mrs Christie, who has two sons, broke her left collarbone, most of her ribs and her right wrist. Speaking from a ward at Royal Lancaster Infirmary, she said: "There's no use having a witch hunt or hysterically blaming people.
"We need calm thinking to find out what happened, make sure it doesn't happen again and reassure passengers.
"I'm sure the person who didn't check the track or the people who didn't make sure it was being looked after are blaming themselves already. I'm not angry. What good is adding to the blame? We just need answers.
"This inquiry should concentrate on building passenger confidence again, not running around screaming about who's at fault. All I want laid out is exactly what they will be doing to check our tracks and trains so I feel safe."
Her comments came as calls were made for a joint public inquiry into Friday's derailment and the one at Potters Bar five years ago.
A report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch into the latest accident found one of three stretcher bars - which keep moving rails a set distance apart - was missing, the other two were fractured and there were bolts missing.
At Potters Bar, there were nuts missing from a set of points and the lock stretcher bar was fractured.
Louise Christian, the solicitor representing the families of those killed in the Potters Bar crash in 2002, said the two accidents were "incredibly similar" and called for a joint public inquiry.
A High Court judge also said yesterday a joint public inquiry may be held into the train crash in Cumbria and the one at Potters Bar.
Mr Justice Sullivan, assigned to conduct an inquest into the deaths of seven people in the Potters Bar derailment, said the similarities between the cases could not be ignored.
He adjourned the Potters Bar inquest from its scheduled start on April 23 and said he would write to Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander to ask whether the investigation should proceed "by way of inquest or public inquiry or some other route".