Hatfield rail crash: 10 years today

TEN years ago today (Sunday) at 12.10pm a train bound for Leeds left King’s Cross; 13 minutes later and travelling at 115mph it derailed just south of Hatfield station killing four men.

The people of Hatfield pulled together that day our chief reporter Kelly-Ann Kiernan has spoken to those who were there including the first fireman to reach the stricken buffet carriage.

FIREMAN Bob Hague’s first reaction to what he saw after running up the bank on the A1000 to look down on the tracks is unprintable.

He had expected to see a carriage with a wheel off the track that needed help getting back on.

But what he saw was carnage.

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His colleagues from Hatfield fire station were already on the tracks. There were people everywhere and the train was scattered.

He raced down to the buffet car which was on its side and went in.

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The married father said: “It was a giant can opener, like someone had ripped it open and peeled it back.”

As he recalled what happened next, the 53-year-old had to pause as his arms filled with goosebumps, a feeling that returns whenever he thinks of those minutes inside the train.

He said: “As I entered the carriage there were two men sat upright, I spent a while with them but they were dead, there was nothing I could do, but I could hear people down the other end.”

It was a bright sunny day and Bob recalled the silence. It was an eerie silence, that was broken by a solitary mobile phone ringing.

That one ringing phone, turned into dozens of phones.

He knew each one had a wife, or a mother, someone on the other end desperate for news.

“You have to put that out of your mind and press on.

“It was a buffet car and there were cans of beer and small stones from the tracks everywhere.”

Bob continued on and crawling through the upturned wreckage to help release the injured, he was soon joined by paramedics and they struggled to work in the small confined space.

He stayed in the carriage until all the injured were out.

Ten years on and the memories of that day stay with the firefighter of 29 years service.

Travelling through that section of track in or out of London has a sense of foreboding.

“Even if I’m with the wife Tracy and kids as soon as the train starts to pull away it’s a weird feeling. I get to that bit of track and I hold on, willing the train to make it to Hatfield station.”

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