Contractors at the scene of the Stonehaven rail disaster ran after hearing a “loud rumbling noise”, a new report has said.
After hearing the crash on a bridge above them, Network Rail workers who happened to be there for another purpose tended to injured passengers.
They then used their machinery to put water on the flames coming from one of the carriages.
They also create a makeshift bridge across the river to help with the emergency response.
The details emerged in a report published by the UK Government’s Department for Transport (DfT).
It is the second interim report into the August 12 derailment, in which a ScotRail train crashed on a bridge.
The tragedy led to the deaths of the train’s driver, Brett McCullough, the conductor, Donald Dinnie and one of the passengers on board, Christopher Stuchbury.
We published a wide-ranging series – The 6.54 from Stonehaven – last December which revealed that the first emergency call used an app called What3Words which allows emergency service workers to get to the scene as quickly as possible.
You can read our multi-part series here.
The new report, written by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), references a group of workers who were due to carry out a project to protect the food of the bridge from river water as part of a routine maintenance programme.
The project had not yet started – but several members of staff employed by Network Rail had been sent to the site at Carmont on the morning of the crash to monitor equipment.
The report said: “The contractors working on the scour protection project at (the bridge) had a small team on site on August 12 to protect plant and equipment from rising water levels.
“Two people were standing by the river when they heard a ‘loud rumbling noise from above’, and ran as the derailed vehicles fell down the embankment.
“The contractor’s supervisor made a 999 call at about 9.37am.”
It added: “The scour protection contractor’s staff provided initial assistance to the injured people on the train.
“They also used a small excavator that was on site to move a portable fuel tank away from the scene, to put water on one of the fires and to place a timber mat across the river to make a temporary bridge.
“Local residents also responded and provided assistance to injured people and the emergency services.”
The DfT published its first interim report within a month of the crash and a final report is to be published later this year.
All three families of those who lost loved ones in the derailment have now instructed lawyers to act on their behalf.
‘We are devastated by his loss’
Speaking exclusively to us – and for the first time about the crash – Mr Stuchbury’s wife Diane said: “As a family, we have not felt ready or able to make any comment publicly about the accident and the loss of Chris.”
“With the publication of the report by Network Rail last month and now RAIB’s interim report, it seems an appropriate time to do so.
“We do not wish to comment on the reports but we do wish to express our gratitude for the immeasurable support we have received.”
She added: “Chris was adored by his family. He was travelling to his penultimate shift as a Tug Boat Captain in the Firth of Forth.
“He was due to retire on September 9.
“We were very much looking forward to a long and active retirement and enjoying more time with Chris.
“We are devastated by his loss.
“Our grief is still very raw but we have found comfort in the sympathy and kindness which has been shown to us.
“We are also thinking of the other families who have been affected by this tragedy and what they are going through.
“We were quite overwhelmed that ASLEF and the RMT unions chose to share with us the funds they raised.
“I wrote to them at the time to express our thanks to their members and everyone who donated and I repeat our thanks again today.”
The family’s solicitor, Lisa Gregory of Grant Smith Law Practice, said: “This is a deeply distressing case.
“We expect that our public transport system is safe and closely regulated.
“Chris and his family have paid the ultimate price for apparent failings in that system.
“We trust that the investigations by the RAIB and by the ORR, Police Scotland and the British Transport Police will be comprehensive and timely and will identify all necessary steps to be taken to ensure the improvement of safety standards on our railways, and indeed on the wider transport infrastructure, to restore public confidence and ensure that this type of tragedy cannot be repeated.”
‘Many unanswered questions’
Lawyer Julie Clark-Spence, a partner at Balfour+Manson in Aberdeen who is representing members of the family of Donald Dinnie said: “While the family welcome the progress made, there is still a long way to go before any conclusion is reached.”
“The interim report provides an indication that there are still many unanswered questions which need addressed quickly before there is any form of closure for them.
“Losing a loved one in these circumstances is devastating, but not
knowing the full extent of what happened merely prolongs the agony for the family.”
It is understood that the families, including that of Brett McCullough, were shown the report before publication.
The McCullough family have said they will provide comment later today after studying the report in detail.