Following the fatal train crash near Stonehaven in Scotland, a number of people have either visited the scene or commented on their reaction to the tragedy.
The Prince of Wales visited the site, where he thanked responders who were first on the scene of the incident on Wednesday 12 August. His Royal Highness spoke to representatives of the emergency services including the Scottish Ambulance Service and Police Scotland.
Liam Johnston, senior railway and British Transport Police chaplain, said: “Some on twitter have been dismissive about the visit of Prince Charles to the crash site near Stonehaven and Carmont, but. for most of us on site. we felt it shows that there’s a real care and interest for what people are doing. The visit didn’t stop the work or hinder the ongoing operation.”
Secretary of State Grant Shapps flew over the site in the Network Rail helicopter. “Today I visited the Stonehaven derailment and witnessed the catastrophic rail scene from the air,” he tweeted afterwards. “I met and thanked first-on-scene officer PC Mercer and many others who responded so quickly in distressing circumstances. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, also went to the site of the train derailment. As he arrived, he said: “My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy, especially the friends and families of the three people who died and those that are injured.
“I want to express my thanks to my colleagues at Network Rail, the British Transport Police and all the emergency services who responded so quickly and professionally and continue to do so.
“Questions are inevitably being asked as to how this could happen and I am determined that we understand the circumstances that led to this devastating event. It’s too early to draw conclusions, but it is critical that we investigate thoroughly and with care, and work closely with rail safety authorities, to make sure this can’t happen again.”
He then joined Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in a helicopter survey of the site, before talking to responders and investigators.
Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, was one of the first to comment, on the day of the accident. “Our thoughts are with those who have been affected by this tragic event, particularly the families of those who have lost their lives,” he said. “The railway in Scotland is a family, and it’s one that is hurting today.”
Chris Loder MP, member of parliament for West Dorset and a member of the Commons Transport Select Committee, wrote to Alex Hynes and his colleagues at Scotland’s Railway. “I’m writing to send you all my deepest sympathies, particularly to those of you who are drivers and conductors, following yesterday’s derailment of 1T08 and the tragic death of colleagues.
“Before my election to Parliament in December, as you may know, I spent 20 years working for the railway. In 2004, I was the train crew manager at Paddington when an HST derailed at Ufton Nervet, near Reading. The scenes and the tragedy were very similar and I know how traumatising such an experience is for you.
“As the only Member of Parliament to have been a train guard, I send you all my thoughts and prayers from West Dorset during what, I’m certain, will be a very sad time for of you.”
Chief inspector of rail accidents Simon French issued a statement: “Following the tragic accident near to Carmont, my thoughts, and those of all of my colleagues at the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), are with the families of the three people who lost their lives.
“It’s the job of the RAIB, the UK’s independent rail accident investigation body, to identify the immediate and underlying causes of the accident, and to make safety recommendations to reduce the risk to the UK’s travelling public and rail employees alike.
“Thankfully, fatal derailments are a rare occurrence on the UK’s national network. However, landslips and other earthworks failures remain a risk to trains that needs to be constantly managed – and this is becoming even more challenging for the rail industry, due to the increasing incidence of extreme weather events.
“We have an expert team at the site of the derailment who are gathering the evidence that is needed to understand what happened, and why. They share my determination to pursue every line of enquiry, to analyse the evidence, and to identify important safety learning.”
Driver Brett McCullough, was a member of ASLEF. Kevin Lindsay, the union’s organiser in Scotland, said: “The tragic accident at Stonehaven has affected everyone in the railway family, but especially the family and friends of the three people who died, and the six people who were injured.
“Brett McCullough, 45, who was married with three children, and worked out of Aberdeen depot, lived not far from the scene of yesterday’s crash.
“Originally from Bromley, in Kent, Brett moved to Aberdeenshire to marry Stephanie. He worked as a gas fitter up here, and was servicing the boiler of an Aberdeen train driver in 2011 when they started to talk about the railway, and about driving trains. Brett was fascinated by what he heard, successfully applied for a job, did his driver’s training for a year to earn his key, and entered service with ScotRail in December 2013.
“He was a dedicated train driver, who loved his job, and was very popular at the depot with his colleagues. He was also a devoted family man who loved his wife and children – two girls and a boy.
“Brett thought the world of his family, and we all thought the world of him.”
Brett’s wife, Stephanie McCullough, issued a statement through Police Scotland: “Brett was a much-loved husband, father, son and uncle who will be sorely missed by all.
“It is an extremely difficult time for us as a family and we would ask for privacy as we try to come to terms with our horrendous loss.”
Mick Lynch, senior assistant general secretary of the RMT union, paid tribute to conductor Donald Dinnie, an RMT member: “On behalf of the union I want to send condolences, support and solidarity to Donald Dinnie’s family, friends and colleagues. It is absolutely clear that he was much loved and highly respected by all who knew him and his death is a tragedy that has shocked our entire industry. We share the grief of those who were close to Donald.
“Donald’s branch, Aberdeen 1, have told me that he was an amazing person. He lit up every room he walked into with his cheery banter and stories. Many knew Donald for most of his railway career as a driver and a guard. He was very much a family man and a valued, active and proud member of the RMT. His loss has cast a long shadow over his branch, his region and the whole national union.
“RMT will continue to provide whatever support we can to Donald’s family and colleagues at this terrible time. We are united in both our grief and our determination to ensure that safety on our railways remains the absolute priority.”
Donald’s family said: “As a family, we are devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Donald, a loving and proud dad, son, partner, brother, uncle and friend. No words could ever describe how much he will be missed by us all and there will always be a missing piece in our hearts.
“It is so heart-warming to see how many people have fond memories of Donald, and I am sure they have plenty of happy and funny stories to tell. He was a kind, caring and genuine person who was never found without a smile on his face. We know he will be deeply missed by all.
“Together we thank each and every one of you for your kind words and condolences, but we kindly ask at this time that we have the chance to grieve privately as a family.”
The family of Christopher Stuchbury, the 62-year-old passenger from Aberdeen who was killed, paid tribute to their loved one: “Chris was a much-adored husband, son, dad, stepdad, grandad, brother and uncle, and was a treasured and loved friend to many, including the Targe Towing Team, where he was an integral and valued member of staff.
“He also volunteered at Roxburghe House in Aberdeen (an NHS specialist palliative care unit) during his spare time, which he thoroughly enjoyed doing.
“We are devastated by his death and we request privacy at this difficult time as we come to terms with our loss.”