Updated 08.06, 12.20
THREE people were killed in the derailment near Stonehaven in north east Scotland yesterday morning, and six others have been taken to hospital with mainly minor injuries. The ScotRail driver and conductor were among the three fatalities.The train affected was an early morning service from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street, worked by an HST with four passenger coaches. Fire broke out in the leading power car after it had plunged down an embankment.
It was thought that the late-running 06.38 Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service had been halted by flooding on the track, and had been given authority to work 'wrong line’ so that it could continue south on the parallel, unflooded line. It was then that it either collided with the debris from a landslip or encountered subsidence caused by a landslip affecting the embankment below.
However, Scottish transport minister Michael Matheson was later reported to have said that ‘the derailment happened as the train driver was heading north, trying to return to Aberdeen’.
Network Rail Scotland tweeted at 09.49 that it had received reports of a landslip at Carmont, the site of the accident. It also posted a video showing flooded tracks in the area.
Emergency services had already been called at 09.43. Heavy rain had swept across Scotland overnight, causing widespread disruption to train services elsewhere as well as flooding in the centre of the nearby town of Stonehaven when the River Carron burst its banks.
There was a major response from emergency services with many ambulances, including at least one air ambulance, called to the scene, with additional assistance from Aberdeen Coastguard in a multi-agency response.
The driver and conductor who lost their lives have been named locally as Brett McCullough and Donald Dinnie.
The accident has brought to an end a record thirteen years during which no passenger had died in a British train accident. The last fatality, also after a derailment, occurred in February 2007.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said there had been ‘an extremely serious incident’ and that her ’thoughts are with all those involved’.
The RMT said it was working to support its members. Senior assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘RMT is aware of the major incident at Stonehaven and our reps are liaising directly at senior level with both ScotRail and Network Rail.
’Our priority at this time is to support our members, their colleagues and their families and to do all that we can to assist the rescue operation which RMT members are currently involved in.
‘The facts behind this incident will need to be established in due course but at this stage we are focused on support and assistance and our thoughts are with all those impacted by this tragedy.’
National Rail Enquiries is reporting that all services have been cancelled between Dundee and Aberdeen.
BACKGROUND: On 23 February 2007 a Virgin West Coast train from London Euston to Glasgow Central became derailed on points at Lambrigg, near Grayrigg in Cumbria, while travelling at the authorised speed of 95mph (153 km/h). The nine-car Class 390 Pendolino was completely derailed and fell down an embankment. There were at least 105 passengers and four crew on board. One passenger was fatally injured, 28 passengers, the train driver and one other crew member were seriously injured, and 59 passengers received minor injuries. (Source: RAIB)