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Speed restrictions would have reduced Hatfield crash risk

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SPEED RESTRICTIONS should have been imposed on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) before October 2000's Hatfi eld crash, the Old Bailey heard this week.

Four passengers died after a rail shattered beneath a highspeed train, but safety measures should have been in place, said an engineer.

Graham Eastabrook was Railtrack's track engineer for its East Anglia region at the time of the crash. The East Anglia region was not responsible for the ECML.

Reports of ultrasonic testing carried out at the crash site in 1999 and before the 2000 crash revealed deterioration in the rail, Eastabrook said.

'You would expect experienced contractors to take action. They would normally apply a speed restriction as a matter of course, ' he said. 'It wouldn't stop the rail breaking but it would mitigate the risk.' he prosecution alleges defendants from Railtrack and maintenance contractor Balfour Beatty ignored a letter from Railtrack head of track David Ventry, containing information about dealing with gauge corner cracking. It was this phenomenon which caused the break.

Defence counsels have argued the letter contained advice only.

Jonathan Goldberg QC, representing Balfour Beatty civil engineer Nicholas Jeffries, said to Eastabrook: 'If the Hatfield crash had happened in Ipswich you might have had some big gorilla from the British Transport Police asking you why you didn't apply the Ventry letter.

'Your answer would have been that it's only guidance, not a change to the standard.' Eastabrook agreed. The case continues.

INFOPLUS Visit www. nceplus. co. uk for daily reports.

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