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Inquest into train derailment death

An inquest into the death of a woman in the 2007 Cumbria train crash is due to begin.

Margaret Masson, 84, died after a Virgin Pendolino London to Glasgow express train derailed on the West Coast Main Line near the remote village of Grayrigg in Cumbria at 8.12pm on February 23, 2007.

All eight carriages of the Class 390 tilting train were derailed and 86 passengers and two crew of the 105 people aboard were injured as the 95mph locomotive came off the rails and carriages scattered down an earth embankment.

Mrs Masson, known as Peggy, from Glasgow, was travelling on the train with her daughter Margaret Langley, who is due to give evidence at the hearing at the County Offices in Kendal, Cumbria.

The train driver, Iain Black, from Dumbarton, who was seriously injured and hailed a hero by Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson, will also give evidence to Ian Smith, HM Coroner for South and East Cumbria.

A subsequent Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) inquiry ruled the "immediate cause" of the crash was the train had gone over a "degraded and unsafe" set of points, known as Lambrigg 2B.

One of three stretcher bars, which keep moving rails a set distance apart, was missing, the other two were fractured and bolts were missing. But the report also cited "underlying factors" and a catalogue of safety management shortcomings by Network Rail (NR), who owned and maintained the rail network, with 21 of the report's 29 safety recommendations directed at them.

The report also highlighted a planned inspection by NR workers of the track covering the Lambrigg 2B points five days before the accident which was never carried out but should have detected mechanical defects.

Much of the evidence during the inquest, scheduled to last three weeks, will focus on rail safety management.

The 2007 Grayrigg crash came after safety recommendations were made following the deaths of four people in the Hatfield crash in October 2000 caused by a broken rail, and the Potters Bar accident in May 2002, which killed seven people, again caused by faulty rail points.

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