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‘Too early’ to identify ‘exact causes’ behind Stonehaven rail tragedy

The scene near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, following the derailment of the ScotRail train which cost the lives of three people.
The scene near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, following the derailment of the ScotRail train which cost the lives of three people.

Michael Matheson has said it is “still too early” to determine the “exact causes” of the Stonehaven rail crash, which claimed the lives of three men.

Investigations are ongoing into the devastating incident, which killed three people, including the train’s driver and conductor, and injured several others.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, the Transport Secretary said it was “too early to say” what caused the incident and which measures need to be put in place to “prevent an event of this type from occurring again in the future”.

A probe into the accident is still ongoing at the scene, with staff from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) examining debris at the site.

North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald asked Mr Matheson whether he agrees, in principle, that the rail disaster should lead to “accelerated investment in improving the safe running of trains between Aberdeen and Dundee”.

Michael Matheson MSP Transport Secretary during Topical Questions.

The SNP politician said the operation, maintenance and renewal of the rail network is regulated by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), which makes “determinations” every five years as part of its periodic review process.

He added: “Clearly, depending on the outcome of the various investigations that have been taken forward, it would then be for the ORR to look at whether further determinations need to be made to Network Rail for further enhancements or renewal works to be undertaken on this particular line.

“However, at this stage, it’s too early to say what the exact causes of this incident were and what measures need to be put in place to prevent an event of this type from occurring again in the future.”

A floral tribute at the Newmill Signal Box after the fatal derailment on the railway near Stonehaven. Inset, from left: are Donald Dinnie, Brett McCullough and Christopher Stuchbury.

Train stations across Scotland will fall silent at 9.43am tomorrow, exactly a week after the crash near Stonehaven was reported to the emergency services.

Train conductor Donald Dinnie, driver Brett McCullough, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury will all be honoured during the one-minute silence.

Mr Matheson also offered his condolences to those affected by the tragic incident and said ScotRail had met the families of Mr McCullough and Mr Dinnie and offered support.

In addition, he confirmed arrangements are “well advanced” to offer support to passengers’ families affected.

Once the investigations at the crash site have concluded, Network Rail will begin the process of recovering the carriages and assessing the repairs required to the railway.

UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps has asked Network Rail to produce an interim report on the derailment by September 1, with his Scottish counterpart confirming in Holyrood on Wednesday that a full report is expected “later this year”. 

The initial report by RAIB said the 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service turned back towards Aberdeeen amid sustained rainfall and after reports of a landslip further down the track.

It subsequently hit a second landslip at around 9.40am and derailed, striking a barrier on the edge of a bridge.

That caused the front power car and a carriage to fall down an embankment between Carmont and Laurencekirk.

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