This article was reproduced with the kind permission
of the British Broadcasting Corporation
Wednesday, 18 October,
2000, 10:57 GMT
Railtrack's chief executive has tendered his resignation in the wake of the Hertfordshire train crash.
The Railtrack board is to meet on Wednesday evening to consider whether to accept Gerald Corbett's resignation.
Mr Corbett, who bore the brunt of much of the criticism in the wake of the Paddington disaster, said he was "personally distraught" that another rail tragedy had occurred.
It follows the derailing of a train in Hertfordshire on Tuesday which killed four people.
Accident investigators scouring the scene of the accident say a preliminary search has uncovered a smashed piece of track.
The GNER service from Kings Cross to Leeds was travelling at almost 115 miles an hour - the approved speed for that stretch of track - when the crash happened at 1225 BST on Tuesday.
Nicholas Pollard, Railtrack regional director for the London North Eastern, said experts could not yet be certain if the damaged piece of rail track happened before the accident or as a result of the crash.
Injured leave hospital
"A rail is smashed up there. What we have got to understand is why that has happened and how it has happened," he said.
"We have no indication yet of whether it happened before or after."
He said he was aware that Railtrack could come under heavy fire if the crash was found to be caused by a fault with a rail.
Seven of the 35 people injured in the crash spent a "comfortable" night at the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welywn Garden City.
Three people are expected to be released later, while four more seriously injured patients could be fit to leave in a few days' time.
Search for cause
Transport minister Lord Macdonald told GMTV on Wednesday that he was looking for an answer to what caused the Hatfield train crash within hours or days rather than weeks.
Investigators are being joined by officers from the British Transport Police and Hertfordshire Police for a search which they say will take several days.
Experts and technicians from the Railway Inspectorate and the Health and Safety Inspectorate will carry out more detailed inspections once the overturned carriage is lifted into an upright position
A Hertfordshire Police spokeswoman said the four people who died were four men who were believed to have been in the buffet car.
Initial fears of a terrorist attack have been dismissed, after officers from Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch who searched the scene ruled out the possibility of an explosion.
Fear over safety
The investigation is now due to focus on three possible causes - vandalism of the track, a broken rail or a faulty wheel or axle.
Vernon Hince, of the RMT union, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there had been widespread concern that the privatised rail companies were not observing safety procedures.
"We have an immense amount to do to address the causes of both small accidents and cataclysmic accidents and these must move fast," he said.
"We are determined that the programmes leading to a safe railway will be pushed fast and vigorously and with the capital needed."
GNER chief executive Christopher Garnett said railways were still "incredibly safe although I do accept that what happened yesterday has shaken people's confidence".
The possibility of driver error seems to have been ruled out after police interviewed and bloodtested the man at the wheel in Tuesday's crash. He escaped without injury.
Mr Garnett, confirmed that a trainee driver was also in the cab.
There was no other train involved and GNER officials said the track and rolling stock were inspected frequently.
Most of the 35 casualties were treated for bumps and fractures before being allowed home.
One has undergone surgery and three others have been treated for injuries including a fractured spine, head injuries and a collapsed lung.
Trains services to and from King's Cross are subject to delays. All trains are bypassing the crash scene adding 30 minutes to intercity journeys, but less on shorter routes.
The latest Railtrack speed restrictions mean that high speed trains will be travelling at two-thirds of their normal limit on certain stretches of track.