Passenger Train Derails In England, 1 Dead

Friday, February 23rd 2007, 4:08 pm
By: News On 6

LAMBRIGG, England (AP) _ A high-speed train traveling from London to Scotland derailed Friday night and sent carriages slipping down an embankment, killing at least one person and injuring 77, officials said.

The Glasgow-bound Virgin train derailed in the northwest county of Cumbria, near the Scottish border, after reportedly hitting an obstruction, at 8:10 p.m.

A Royal Lancaster Infirmary spokeswoman confirmed early Saturday that one person had died of injuries sustained in the crash.

Cumbria Ambulance Service spokeswoman Claudine Shacklock said rescue workers believed no one was left on the nine-car train.

``All the carriages are clear,'' she said.

She said there were 80 to 90 passengers on board when the train derailed and 77 had been injured. Initially, officials said as many as 200 people were believed to be on board.

Some 65 were walking wounded and 12 were taken to hospital with serious injuries, she said.

Virgin Trains spokesman Lee West told Sky News that the cause of the accident was unknown and that the driver was among the injured.

Shacklock said all of the train's nine carriages had derailed, but downed power lines had prevented rescue officials from being able to immediately to help people out of the cars.

Twelve ambulances and five fire trucks responded to the scene, and the Royal Air Force dispatched three Sea King helicopters and two mountain rescue teams. The military helicopters, along with one police helicopter, were sent to transport the injured to hospitals.

British Broadcasting Corp. executive Caroline Thompson, who was on the train, told the BBC that the train appeared to hit something and lurched from side to side ``in a very dramatic way.''

Passenger Ruth Colton told the BBC she was reading a book when the journey became bumpy, like the train was being battered by heavy winds, ``as if we were on a plane,'' before derailing.

She said the train flipped over, and items such as bottles and bags were ``flying everywhere.''

The train involved was a Pendolino train, which has a special tilting mechanism that allows it to reach speeds of 125 mph.

The area where the train derailed Friday has seen two accidents on its railway lines in the past four years.

Rail safety has been a major problem in Britain in recent years. One of the most serious accidents occurred in October 1999, when a train heading out of London's Paddington station went through a red light and crashed into an incoming high-speed train, killing 31 people. Around 400 people were injured in the accident, which was Britain's worst rail crash in 25 years.