Potters Bar rail crash: Memorials mark 20th anniversary

Image source, Hertsmere Borough Council
Image caption,
The public memorial service was held at Our Lady and St Vincent Church in Potters Bar

Memorial services have been held to remember those who died in the Potters Bar rail crash 20 years ago.

Seven people, six of them passengers, were killed when a London to King's Lynn train derailed at a faulty set of points at the station in Hertfordshire on 10 May 2002.

A public service was held at Our Lady and St Vincent Church in Potters Bar.

A private memorial for family members was held at the station before the public service.

Deputy Mayor of Hertsmere, John Graham, said they would "never forget those who lost their lives".

The six passengers killed on the West Anglia Great Northern express were in the train's fourth carriage which became airborne after derailing. It ended up wedged under the canopy on a platform at the station.

The seventh victim, Agnes Quinlivan, 80, was killed by falling debris as she walked near the station.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The West Anglia Great Northern Express derailed at Potters Bar in Hertfordshire on 10 May 2002

Conservative district councillor Mr Graham said the crash left a "profound and indelible mark on our community".

"We will never forget those who lost their lives or those left behind to grieve and forced to rebuild their worlds after it," he said.

"Our thanks go to the emergency services, whose indefatigable efforts on the day helped ensure more lives were not lost.

"This incident had serious repercussions for local people, the rail industry, and other national institutions, but it also demonstrated the strength of the community spirit, which characterises Potters Bar and the whole of our borough - a spirit which lives on to this day."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Network Rail was fined over the incident in 2011

Network Rail was fined £3m in May 2011, having pleaded guilty at St Albans Crown Court to breaching health and safety regulations.

The track operator came under fire last month over its plans to cut up to 2,500 jobs as part of a £2bn reduction in spending.

Unions claimed that the cuts would mean accidents were "more likely".

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers said the proposed job cuts included workers who maintain tracks, signals and overhead lines among other things.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Fellow passengers, rail workers and passers-by went to the aid of those in the derailed carriage

Kevin Rowan, head of public services for the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said "thankfully" nothing like Potters Bar had happened for some time due to investment in rail infrastructure.

"But our anxiety is, if you take the maintenance and rail checks away then you're going to miss something on the infrastructure," he said.

Network Rail said the proposals were being discussed and it would "not consider any changes that would make the railway less safe".

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