Network Rail ‘warned about landslips’ four weeks before train derailment tragedy

Network Rail was warned about the "vulnerability" of its lines to landslips to and severe weather four weeks before a fatal derailment in Aberdeenshire.

Three people died on the 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service when it derailed and crashed down an embankment near Stonehaven on Wednesday morning.

It followed heavy rain and flooding with an investigation now underway.

Just one month ago an annual report filed by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said there were six times more flooding events on Britain’s railways in 2019-20 than during the previous 12 months.

There had also been an increase in the number of landslips, indicating the “vulnerability” of the network.

The ORR also found Network Rail’s plans to address climate change and extreme weather were “not keeping up with the frequency and severity of these events”.

Speaking last month, HM chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser said: “The last year saw significant increases in flooding, earthwork failures and trains striking trees on the line, which had a big impact on the number of delays on the network.

“It is so important that the sector employs best practice if we are to meet all the pressures on the network in the future and to make sure the railway plays its full role on climate change and reducing carbon emissions.”

In response, Network Rail admitted it was “challenged” by temperature fluctuations, storms and floods.

It added: “Our climate is changing and we’re seeing more and more of these types of incidents.

“We are acutely aware they must be addressed and we have drawn up comprehensive plans to do so.

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“There is no quick fix but we will continue to review the way the railway operates in extreme weather and build resilience into all of our plans.”

Three people, including the driver, died after the 6.38am ScotRail from Aberdeen to Stonehaven came off the tracks on Wednesday.

A further six people were taken to hospital.

British Transport Police (BTP) said those pronounced dead at the scene near Stonehaven include the train's driver.

He has been named locally as Brett McCullough and reportedly lived close to where the crash happened.

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The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said the train conductor, named locally as Donald Dinnie, was another victim in the incident.

ScotRail confirmed the third casualty was a passenger on its 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service, which crashed on Wednesday morning amid heavy rain and flooding.

An investigation into the crash is set to be launched.

Addressing gathered media later on Wednesday, BTP chief inspector Brian McAleese said an investigation would be directed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

He added they "will also be working closely with them along with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and Office of Road and Rail to establish the full circumstances of how this train came to derail".

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