Rail safety fight goes on 11 years after tragedy

Tom Angus
Tom Angus

A survivor of the Tebay railway tragedy which killed four men 11 years ago said the industry is still waiting for safety measures to be brought in.

Tom Angus, 68, from Scotforth, stepped out of the path of the 16-tonne trailer just seconds before the 40mph impact.

But as the 11th anniversary of the disaster approaches Mr Angus said he is disappointed to see changes have yet to be made.

Rail bosses have been testing new safety measures in the hope of preventing future tragedies.

A treadle-operated device would be fixed to the track close to where maintenance teams are working.

A trial began on December 17 at Preston railway yard.

And today, Thursday - three days before the 11th anniversary of Tebay – Network Rail are due to meet with campaigners to discuss the success of the scheme.

Now retired, Mr Angus, a former RMT Union Lancaster branch safety rep, said: “A 10 second warning at Tebay may have saved those lives.

“In December I was allowed to see the secondary protection being trialled at Preston, but it is still not ready.

“We were expecting it to be up and running this week.

“Network Rail wanted to change the date of our meeting to March, but the RMT insisted on meeting them.

“I have been to see the families [of the Tebay victims] and I have had to say to them that the safety measures are no nearer.

“Since Tebay there have been dozens of incidents.

“There has been a runaway in Wales and another near-miss near Wigan in the last two months.

“In December Network Rail agreed it would be mandatory for safety measures where there’s a high risk of runaways.”

Mr Angus said he now hoped the system would be rolled out by the beginning of April.

He said: “That would bring a bit of closure for the families and it would be making it safer for the people who are still working on the lines.”

The 11th Tebay rally commemorating the victims of the 2004 rail maintenance disaster and fighting for secondary protection for all on or about the tracks is being held at the Tebay memorial stone in Cumbria, just off the main road into Tebay, from noon on February 15.

All are welcome and a buffet will follow the rally at Tebay BRSA railworkers’ club.

The rally is being organised by the RMT Railworkers Lancaster and district branch.