The sister of a man who died in the Stonehaven rail crash has accused rail authorities of “structural failures” after a third safety incident came to light.
Salina McCullough spoke out after we reported yesterday how a train at Beattock in Dumfries and Galloway travelled at 45mph – despite a temporary 5mph speed limit being in place after heavy rain eroded an embankment.
It happened on December 20 – four months after the fatal Stonehaven rail crash, in which heavy rain and embankment erosion were also factors.
It is the third rail safety issue to come to light in recent months.
On December 4, two trains travelled at more than 100mph near Laurencekirk despite a temporary 40mph speed limit being put in place due to forecasted heavy rain.
A Rail Accident Investigation Branch report said neither of the drivers had been aware of the speed limit.
Then on January 15, railings on a bridge collapsed at Tewel less than a mile from the derailment site and the line between Stonehaven and Laurencekirk is shut as a result.
Salina who is the sister of Brett McCullough who was the driver killed in the Stonehaven derailment, said: “What these incidents highlight, are not only the flaws in safety procedures, communication and leadership, but the regularity in which these incidents are occurring.
“While they are different from each other, there is one common theme – that being structural failures.”
Network Rail had initially aimed to reopen the line near Tewel on the day after the bridge parapet collapsed, but has since announced the line will be shut until January 31, with replacement buses in place.
Salina said: “I am thankful to hear the bridge between Stonehaven and Carmont will not be reopened as planned.
“Network Rail should now be taking advantage of the downtime during lockdown and working to conduct extensive safety checks while passengers and drivers are out of harm’s way.”
A Network Rail spokesman said: “We understand the concerns that have been raised following this incident and are carefully reviewing what’s happened.
“Inspections are taking place at the bridge to identify the root cause of the January 15 parapet failure.
“We know we have a real challenge to manage our earthworks and structures while adapting to the demands of a modern railway and a changing climate.
“That is why in the wake of the Stonehaven tragedy we asked experts Dame Julia Slingo and Lord Robert Mair to lead independent task forces to identify how we can better manage our huge earthworks portfolio and respond to severe weather events.
“Those reviews are nearing completion and we will consider all recommendations carefully.
“Our number-one priority is running a safe and reliable railway while keeping our passengers and staff safe.”
Salina, who spoke to the Evening Express as part of our exclusive series into the Stonehaven rail crash, said the RAIB report into the Beattock incident said there had been a ‘failire of the embankment’ with providing detail.
She added: They must give the public clarification on what this means.
“How did the embankment fail? Is the structure of the railway, after 150 years of wear and tear, beginning to erode bit by bit?
“Given that this is the third (reported) incident in just five months, it does appear to be the case.”
A RAIB spokesman said it did not wish to add to its report at this time.
It is expected to release a full report into the Stonehaven derailment this summer.