Written ministerial statement on rail crash in Cumbria in 2007


The Secretary of State for Transport, Mr. Geoff Hoon, made the following statement upon the publication of the report on the rail crash that happened in Cumbria in February 2007:

I would like to inform the House that the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has today published its final report on the rail accident which occurred near Grayrigg in Cumbria on February 23, 2007. A copy of the report is available in the House Libraries. Copies of the report are also available on the RAIB website at www.raib.gov.uk.

In summary, the report concludes that the immediate cause of the derailment
was the deterioration of Lambrigg 2B points through a combination of failures
of the three stretcher bars, the lock stretcher bar, and their fastenings. The
unsafe condition arose as a result of a combination of three factors, which
were the mechanical failure of a bolted joint, the incorrect set up of the
points, and a track inspection that was missed on February 18, 2007. It makes
a number of important recommendations to the rail industry aimed at ensuring
that the lessons are learned from this accident.

I know that Honorable and Right Honorable Members, and the traveling public,
will want to be assured that the rail network is safe. The RAIB have already
issued urgent safety advice to the rail industry – in June and November 2007
– as their investigation progressed. The independent rail safety regulator,
the Office of Rail Regulation, has assured me that no further immediate
actions to ensure the safety of passengers and staff using Network Rail’s
infrastructure are necessary as a result of the report, beyond those that
have already been taken.

All RAIB investigations include a review of previous similar occurrences
and the action taken in response to any related recommendations. In this
context the RAIB reviewed the investigation into the accident at Potters
Bar on May 2002.

I will consider the detail of the report carefully and take a decision on the
most appropriate way forward, both with regard to the accident at Grayrigg
and the derailment at Potters Bar, the inquest for which was adjourned
in February 2007 pending the outcome of the investigations into Grayrigg.
I will also write to the affected parties shortly to seek their views and
anticipate announcing my decision to the House early in the new year.

I appreciate that this will mean a short further delay for the relatives
of the bereaved, and I regret this. However, I consider it essential to
ensure that the way forward is one that will deliver closure to those who
were affected, as soon as possible. I am sure that the House will agree that
it is important that full consideration is given to the inspector’s report,
and that the right decisions are made on how to proceed.