ACCIDENT INVESTIGATORS were this week deciding whether a faulty wheel caused the derailment of a high speed intercity train on the East Coast Main Line near Hatfield on Tuesday.
Two years ago an identical GNER high speed train derailed near Sandy in Bedfordshire after a 'mono-block' wheel cracked and failed. The last carriage of a GNER train derailed at 200km/h.
As NCE went to press four people were known to have died after GNER's 12.10pm Kings Cross to Leeds service derailed at high speed, 300m from Hatfield station. The train was travelling around a right hand curve when the middle section snapped away from the front carriages and rolled over.
Investigators will also consider whether a broken rail caused the crash.
Health & Safety Executive figures show that broken rails are more common now than five years ago (NCE 7 September).
Track vandalism has not been ruled out although a British Transport Police spokesman appeared to discount terrorism, as initial searches showed no indication of bomb damage.
The Mark 4 intercity carriages involved in this week's disaster were the same type as those in the Sandy derailment two years ago. Both sets of carriages were maintained for GNER by rollingstock maintenance firm Railcare.
The HSE successfully prosecuted Railcare over the Sandy incident. The company was fined £175,000 including £30,000 costs at Luton Crown Court on 31 July this year. The HSE also ordered GNER to cut the time between wheel and bogie checks from 90 to 10 days.
A GNER spokesman said there were no indications that the train had broken the 184km/h speed limit over the right-hand curve of track.