Rail crash probe ‘will reveal whether adverse weather work needs stepped up’

The Aberdeenshire fatal rail crash investigation will reveal whether work to defend against adverse weather needs to be “stepped up”, the Scottish Transport Secretary has said.

Michael Matheson was in Stonehaven on Thursday and praised the response of emergency services in dealing with the incident.

Officials have pledged to find out what caused the train to derail near Stonehaven, killing three people and injuring six others.

Mr Matheson claimed adverse weather was increasingly having an impact on routes and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) probe into the incident would reveal whether mitigation works needed to be increased.

Mr Matheson said: “We’ve already experienced significant disruption to the Scottish rail network as a result of these localised, intense weather events.

“They (Network Rail) are well aware of our views about the need to make sure that we are taking forward the right types of mitigations that help to manage a challenge of these types of localised, intense weather events.

“I think one of the things we will see what comes from the investigation is whether the pace of that type of mitigation work needs to be stepped up, that’s not just a challenge across Scotland, it’s across the whole of the UK.

“I think it would be reasonable to presume, without unduly speculating, that weather had an impact in this particular incident.”

The 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service derailed on Wednesday morning amid heavy rain and flooding.

The driver who died in the derailment was a former gas engineer who decided to switch careers after servicing the boiler of a railway worker, sources told PA.

A union official said colleagues “thought the world” of Brett McCullough, 45, who leaves wife Stephanie and three children, two girls and a boy.

RAIL Stonehaven
RAIL Stonehaven

He is a former gas engineer who had been a train driver for seven years.

Colleagues told PA he was servicing the gas boiler of an Aberdeen train driver when they started chatting about the job and he decided to join the railways.

Kevin Lindsay, Scotland organiser for the train drivers’ union Aslef, said: “The tragic accident at Stonehaven has affected everyone in the railway family. Brett thought the world of his family, and his colleagues thought the world of him.”

The train’s conductor, Donald Dinnie, and a passenger were also killed in the crash.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, ScotRail’s managing director Alex Hynes said: “Yesterday was a devastating day for everybody who works in the rail industry in Scotland.

A statement from Alex Hynes, managing director, Scotland's Railway.@NetworkRailSCOTpic.twitter.com/mniA6CVSZ1

— Network Rail (@networkrail) August 12, 2020

“Our love and support is sent to the victims of this accident and their families, those that were injured in the accident and anybody who was touched by yesterday’s terrible tragedy.”

The Queen, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have led tributes to those killed in the “tragic” incident.

In a message of condolence, sent to the Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire, the Queen said: “It was with great sadness that I heard of the train derailment earlier today in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire.

“The Duke of Edinburgh, and the entire royal family, join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who have died and those who have been injured.”