Counting the cost of rail crash

ANGLIA Railways was today counting the cost of the rail crash on the Lawford/Ardleigh border as hundreds of delayed commuters demand compensation.It has also emerged that were it not for the quick-thinking of the 44-year-old Ipswich train driver the early morning accident could have been much worse.

ANGLIAN Railways was today counting the cost of the rail crash on the Lawford/Ardleigh border as hundreds of delayed commuters demand compensation.

It has also emerged that were it not for the quick-thinking of the 44-year-old Ipswich train driver the early morning accident could have been much worse.

Jill Sollars, of Harwich Road, today spoke of her praise for the train driver who having minutes earlier smashed into the lorry cab immediately ran down the track to put detonators on the line to warn others trains of the danger.

She said: "While everyone was seeing to the lorry driver I went down the track to see if the train driver was hurt.

"He was on the track and he had some big yellow disks in his hand and was obviously putting safety procedures into action.

"His quick thinking notified a train coming from Colchester of the accident."

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The accident which saw a 38-tonne Scania lorry hit a concrete bridge before plunging 30ft into the path of a 19 carriages of liquid phosphorous, was chillingly similar to one at Selby which claimed 10 lives.

Mrs Sollars, 58, said: "He was very shook up but thankfully was not injured," said Mrs Sollars.

She added that she ignored danger to herself as she went to the aid of the train driver.

"I didn't think and just went into auto pilot," she said.

"I heard a paramedic shouting at me to get me off the line but all I was thinking about was the train driver might be injured."

Mrs Sollars believes both the train and lorry driver were very lucky and the situation could have been so much worse.

Yesterday the wife of the lorry driver visited the scene of the accident and thanked the local residents who went to the aid of her husband.

"She was very grateful for what everyone did and just wanted to thank us in person.

"She was still in a state of shock.

"We are all very concerned for the driver but realise it could have been a whole lot worse," said Mrs Sollars.

A fleet of 35 buses connected up to 2,000 London bound-passengers between Ipswich and Colchester between 6am and the limited opening of the route at 3pm.

All of them may be entitled to part or full ticket compensation.

Anglia Railways spokesman Peter Meades said: "Season ticket holders and members of our Commuter Club will be automatically compensated for the delay.

"We will be meeting today to see if ordinary ticket holders will be entitled to compensation."

When the fault is third party and not due to Anglia Railways then, according to the Passengers Charter, there is no obligation to refund tickets, he added.

A joint investigation is now underway to establish the cause of the incident involving Essex police, British Transport Police and Railtrack.

Inspector Simon Morgan commander of the Essex police unit at Stanway said: "We have carried out a thorough investigation at the scene and are looking at things like tyre scuff marks to establish when the driver started to lose control.

"We will also be looking at tachograph records to help establish the speed of the vehicle in the moments before impact with the bridge."

All trains were reported to be running on time today.

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