Site of a terrifying
rail crash in the UK, and the straw that broke the camels back in terms of railway funding and regulation.
On Friday 10th May 2002, a WAGN
electric train approached Potters Bar station, minutes after leaving Kings Cross
. The train was not due to stop at the station and so was progressing at 100mph
. Shortly before reaching the station proper, the train hit a set of faulty points
and derailed. The first three carriages left the track and careered into a waiting room. The final carriage spectacular
ly left the rails and travelled at right angles into the station, wedging between the platform and the roof. The image of this final carriage stuck at a 45 degree angle
in a station came to symbolise the crash in the media. Thankfully, the train was electric and not diesel powered, meaning that fires could not have happened.
Speculation raged in the media, from The Sun
through the broadsheets to Private Eye
(who had a field day through the whole thing). Jarvis
, the private maintenance company for the points which derailed the train said publically that it blamed sabotage
for the derailment. It said that they found nuts on the points to be loose and tightened them again, thus acquitting them of any negligence. This did not hold up, and it contributed to the revocation of Jarvis' license to maintain rail
. The Health and Safety Executive found absolutely nothing
to suggest that sabotage had occurred. A rail engineer talked in the Daily Mirror
about lax safety procedures within the network, including some information about Potters Bar. It was theorised that the points had been coming loose over a period of time, and that the movement of the fourth carriage finished them off for good, loosening the nut
s, moving the points and derailing the train.
The disaster killed seven, and a small memorial garden
has been built next to a road bridge
demolished by the force of the crash. The crash ultimately helped along the process of ceasing private involvement in the railway and the handing over of maintenance to Network Rail