The sister of the driver killed in the Stonehaven train derailment today demanded Transport Secretary Grant Shapps apologise after he compared the tragedy with a toy train set.
Salina McCullough said the Government minister’s tone was “childlike and utterly disrespectful” after he described the crash site as being “like a Hornby train set thrown up in the air”.
Mr Shapps was addressing the House of Commons yesterday when he spoke about the derailment on August 12 which left three people dead and six injured.
He said: “I went to the scene of the tragedy. I was taken over in a helicopter. It was like a Hornby train set thrown up in the air.
“And our thoughts and prayers are with, not just the three who died, but those who were injured and the emergency workers and the brave people who rescued them.”
Salina McCullough’s train driver brother Brett died in the derailment, along with conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury.
She told the Evening Express: “My brother did not train for two years with ScotRail to drive a ‘Hornby train’. My brother trained for two years in order to become extremely competent in his highly-skilled role.
“He put the safety of real passengers first and drove a real train, weighing in at around 170 tonnes.
“Brett was responsible for the safety of everyone who stepped on board and had it not been for his actions that day, more lives would have been lost.
“Consider that before offering up your nonchalant, poorly-constructed comments. Your tone is childlike and utterly disrespectful to the three men who were killed at Stonehaven, and those drivers who are still out there driving trains on your archaic railway lines.
“You owe the grieving families an apology and so much more.”
Kevin Lindsay, of union Aslef, which represents rail workers including one of those who died, also blasted Mr Shapps’ comment as “awful”.
He said: “It’s a despicable comment from a minister who really should be considering his position.
“His moral compass is broken. One, to visit the site of the derailment when he brings nothing to it, two, to then fly in a helicopter over the site, what is he hoping to achieve with that? And thirdly, to make these crass and insensitive comments is quite frankly ridiculous.
“He thinks it’s acceptable to make comments linking a rail disaster with a children’s toy. It’s not acceptable.
“This was a real accident, involving real people, three of whom died, and six of whom were injured, and a real train.”
In response to the derailment, Network Rail has launched two fact-finding missions, one about earthworks and one about climate change.