Beds, Herts & Bucks

Church services mark Hatfield train crash anniversary

Hatfield crash site
Image caption The October 2000 crash left four people dead and 102 injured

The 10th anniversary of a train crash in which four people were killed and 70 were injured was marked with services in Hertfordshire.

Survivors of the Hatfield rail crash joined relatives of those who died at the town's St Etheldreda's church.

Four passengers were killed when an express train from London to Leeds derailed on 17 October 2000.

After attending church the congregation went to the accident site near Hatfield station for another service.

There was a period of silence at the exact moment of the crash - 1223 BST.

Both services were conducted by the Rector of Hatfield, the Rev Richard Pyke, who comforted survivors and the bereaved after the crash.

Mr Pyke said: "Those who lost their lives or whose lives were changed by the crash, as well as the rail staff who were deeply affected by the tragedy, are all in our prayers at present."

The crash involved a Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) express train travelling at more than 100mph

It derailed after passing over a section of rail which then fractured, with 12 GNER staff and 170 passengers on board.

Official inquiries into the derailment showed that, north of the crash position, the rail had fractured into more than 300 pieces.

A Health and Safety Executive inquiry report said the train had passed over a section of track which was in a poor condition and should have been replaced.

Railtrack and the maintenance company involved, Balfour Beatty, faced charges over the crash.

Rail travel safer

Manslaughter charges against the companies and also against six individuals were dropped but, in 2005, after an eight-month Old Bailey trial, Balfour Beatty was fined £10m for breaching health and safety regulations.

Network Rail, which took over from Railtrack in 2002, was fined £3.5m.

Mr Justice Mackay said in his 30 years in the legal profession he regarded Balfour Beatty's failure as the "worst example of sustained industrial negligence in a high-risk industry he had ever seen".

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said: "The impact of the tragedy at Hatfield still resonates today and my thoughts are with the friends and relatives of those killed and injured as they mark the 10th anniversary.

"Rail travel has never been safer than it is today.

"The memories of those who lost their lives will see us continue to prioritise the safety of passengers as we expand and improve our network in the future."

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