An interim report into the Stonehaven rail crash has been received by the procurator fiscal, six months on from the tragedy.
The north-east community will today remember the devastating morning six months ago when driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury died when a ScotRail train derailed near Stonehaven.
Two investigations were launched within hours of the crash.
One of them involves Police Scotland, British Transport Police and the Office of Rail and Road, which have now provided a joint interim report to the fiscal.
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A Crown Office spokesman said: “The procurator fiscal has received reports in connection with the deaths of three men after a fatal crash near Stonehaven on August 12 2020.
“A joint investigation into the deaths by Police Scotland, British Transport Police and the Office of Rail and Road is ongoing and once complete will be fully considered by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
“The families will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments.”
It is understood the full investigation findings will be known soon.
A separate investigation led by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch is ongoing, and the findings are expected to be published this summer.
After the crash, Network Rail, which manages the UK rail network, formed two independent taskforces to explore how landslips and climate change could impact on its services.
This week, the UK Government’s Minister of State for Transport Chris Heaton Harris announced the taskforces had submitted their reports to Network Rail.
He added that Network Rail would “provide an update to the Secretary of State for Transport (Grant Shapps) within the next month.”
Marking six months since the derailment, Mr Shapps told us: “My thoughts remain with the families, friends, and colleagues, as we pause today and remember those who tragically lost their lives six months ago.
“We remain absolutely committed to learning every possible lesson so that we can make our railways safer.
“I look forward to receiving the full findings from the investigations, and acting upon them, as soon as they have concluded.”
In the aftermath of the tragedy, supporters of the families rallied round to raise £142,000 for the three families who lost loved ones.
Some made and sold memorial badges, while others donated the profits from the businesses and one of Brett McCullough’s friends, Dawn Bennett, even walked a marathon distance in a day.
Donald Dinnie’s daughter, Christina, told us her family wanted to create a memorial to her father using part of the money.
The funds were collected by rail unions RMT and ASLEF and haven’t yet been released to the families.
Brett McCullough’s wife, Stephanie, said: “I would like to again say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who donated and their kind messages of support.”
The mum of three added: “I look back regularly at the messages and it bring me huge comfort that there is a huge amount of support for us.”
Brett’s sister Salina, meanwhile, has chosen to speak out on today’s six-month anniversary by criticising Network Rail.
Salina asked if, after the crash, Network Rail had inspected a nearby bridge, whose parapet collapsed in January, forcing the line between Stonehaven and Montrose to close until February 21.
She said: “This bridge is located not even a mile from where my brother was killed.
“One would assume the areas in close proximity would have been thoroughly checked, but apparently not.
“Another bridge, which sits between the Carmont bridge and the damaged bridge, has also now been seen to need repairs to another parapet. How many more are out there on the verge of collapse?
“I believe it is their intention to continue to resort to ‘patch-up jobs’.”
Alan Ross, Network Rail Scotland’s director of engineering and asset management, said: “We are carefully reviewing this incident to identify the underlying cause of the parapet failure.
“We invest heavily in our bridge maintenance programme and between 2019 and 2024 we will spend £376 million on our structures.
“We also invest around £10m each year on inspecting our bridges.
“While the investigation of this incident is ongoing, we have taken a number of immediate steps including conducting precautionary inspections at other similar structures.
“We have also conducted trackside and aerial inspections of the full section of line between Stonehaven and Montrose.”