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Blair pressed Railtrack to end post-Hatfield speed restrictions

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RAILTRACK'S MOST senior track engineer considered resigning after Tony Blair put pressure on the company to lift speed restrictions imposed after the Hatfi eld crash, the Old Bailey heard last week.

Ten days after October 2000's fatal accident, the prime minister told Railtrack chief executive Gerald Corbett the network must return to normal.

Corbett passed the demand down to head of track engineering David Ventry, who was reluctant to raise speeds at hundreds of gauge corner cracking (GCC) sites.

Four passengers on a high speed service were killed after a rail suffering from GCC shattered beneath a train near Hatfi ld in October 2000. Maintenance contractor Balfour Beatty, Railtrack and fi ve engineers face charges arising from the incident (see box).

Ventry kept a diary after the crash, the court heard, in which he also speculated as to whether Corbett was removed by the Railtrack board in November 2000 rather than resigning.

Ventry agreed that the burden placed on him was 'horrific' when cross questioned by Jonathan Goldberg QC, representing one of the defendants, Balfour Beatty civil engineer Nicholas Jeffries. He added: 'I think I hated October, November, December and several other months.' The case continues.

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