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Stonehaven Rail Crash: Driver’s sister accuses leadership of being ‘apathetic’ following speed restrictions report

Brett McCullough with his sister Salina.

The family of one of the Stonehaven rail crash victims has accused leadership of being “apathetic” after a report revealed several speed limit offences on the line.

Investigators have found that six trains travelled at more than double the speed restriction on the stretch where the ScotRail train derailed in August last year.

The offences were recorded between Laurencekirk and Portlethen on December 4 – just four months after the tragedy at Carmont, south of Stonehaven, which left three people dead.

Driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury died when the 06:38 Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street train went off the tracks due to a landslip.

Six more people on board were injured.

Now Mr McCullough’s sister, Salina, has accused those in power of failing to impose “sufficient” safety measures in this area.

She said: “Once again, this highlights the systematic failures of leadership in multiple areas.

“Obviously, the safety of employees and passengers should be a priority but the lack of attention paid in this area tells me otherwise – leadership are apathetic.

“Using one late notice of speed restrictions is clearly not sufficient. Why are they not displaying line-side signage?

“Again, they got lucky, as did the people on board those trains.”

Industry’s processes classed as ‘inefficient’

A 40mph “blanket” emergency speed restriction (BESR) was imposed on December 4 for the day due to a heavy rain forecast and an increased risk of landslips.

The only information about the changes provided to the drivers was a notice displayed in the late notice cases at the locations where they reported for duty.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) also found that the notice did not clearly explain the information in a way that could be readily understood and remembered by drivers.

According to the report published by the watchdog, some drivers were unaware of the BESR as they approached it, while others were unaware of its exact extent.

It was found some trains were travelling through the BESR at the normal maximum permitted speeds of up to 100mph, while others only exceeded the speed restriction for parts of it.

In response to the report, chief inspector of rail accidents, Simon French, said the industry’s processes were “ineffective” and it was only fortunate the rainfall was not as heavy and there were no landslips recorded.

He said: “The railway industry has more work to do to establish a suitable method for the imposition of speed restrictions which are needed in response to extreme weather that has the potential to endanger infrastructure.

“In this case the industry’s processes were ineffective, and it is fortunate that the weather was not as bad as feared and that no accident occurred.”

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