Channel Tunnel rail link deaths accidental

Douglas Lynch
Image caption Douglas Lynch died four days after the fire in the Tunnel under the River Thames

A verdict of accidental death has been returned at an inquest into the deaths of two men killed during the building of the Channel Tunnel rail link.

Darren Brown, 40, a shunter from Sale, Greater Manchester, died in the fire on a maintenance locomotive in Swanscombe, Kent, on 16 August 2005.

Douglas Lynch, 50, a train driver from Folkestone, suffered severe burns and died in hospital four days later.

An examination of the vehicle concluded there was an explosion in its gear box.

'Absolutely gutted'

Following the verdict, Mr Lynch's widow, Denise, said: "I just can't believe our justice system.

"I'm absolutely gutted.

"Over three weeks we have listened to colleagues of Dougie say that there was bad maintenance."

Mr Brown's brother, Colin, said: "You don't expect your brother to go out to work and not come back home."

The inquest in Gravesend, which lasted more than three weeks, heard that Mr Lynch and Mr Brown were transporting a Newag locomotive carrying materials through one of two 2.5km tunnels linking Thurrock in Essex and Swanscombe in Kent.

The fire followed an explosion with a force so great that pieces of metal were blasted through the walls of the vehicle.

Image caption The body of Darren Brown was found several hours after the explosion took place

Jurors were told by several workers that the engine was not "fit for purpose".

Drivers complained that it was prone to overheating and jumped out of gear, especially when it was carrying heavy loads steep gradients.

They also told the inquest there was "an atmosphere of fear and intimidation" at the company which made them wary of complaining.

The inquest heard that the highest number of complaints had been made about the locomotive which Mr Lynch was driving when the explosion happened.

Officials at Newag blamed drivers for exceeding the 30 kph speed limit and rejected claims the engines could not cope with steep inclines.

Fellow worker Kevin Rix, who was one of the first to reach the blazing locomotive, told the inquest that father-of-two Mr Lynch "looked like some plastic bags on the walkway".

He later died in hospital from severe burns.

Mr Brown's body was not found until some hours later, lying about 540 yds (500m) away from the 260ft (80m) locomotive,

A post-mortem examination on Mr Brown, also a father of two, found he had died of multiple injuries including flash burns and a severe head injury.

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