Almost ten years to the day, Tom Angus still doesn’t know why he made a split-second decision to move a metre from where he was stood on the track at Tebay. But what is certain is the subconscious choice saved the maintenance man’s life.
Just seconds later, the 16-tonne scrap rail-loaded trailer barrelled right past him and into his helpless colleagues. Father-of-four Mr Angus, 67, of Abbeystead Drive, Scotforth, said: “I was standing in the space between the two tracks and, for some reason, I don’t know why, some of us stepped out.
“That is when this black object came past with a ‘ssshhh’ and just ran right over them. I was just two or three feet from it.
“I phoned one of the supervisors and said ‘there’s been a major accident, get ambulances and the lot - people have been killed.’”
Mr Angus kept badly-injured colleague Paul Lucas, of Carnforth, warm until paramedics took him away. He went on: “The supervisor offered to come down as he was passing. I had to talk to somebody.” It would be six months before Mr Angus returned to work after counselling for post-traumatic stress. He continued in the job he first started in 1972 until retiring in December 2009. Mr Angus explained: “When I went back I was watching out all the time - it made me more aware.” He was the RMT Union’s health and safety rep at Lancaster for 30 years and, although retired, continues to fight for more protection for rail workers after the tragedy that killed four of his friends right in front of him.