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Friday, 19 September 2014

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South Lakes MP wants rail crash fine to pay for Cumbrian fell rescuers

A MOUNTAIN rescue team leader says he holds out little hope of receiving a donation as a result of fines levied over the Grayrigg train crash.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron says government has the chance to show “goodwill” and bring forward plans to hand over the £4m fine to help the voluntary service, which was first to provide help on the night of the crash.

Last month Network Rail, responsible for the upkeep of the railways, admitted safety failures in the lead-up to the derailment on February 23, 2007, near Kendal.

Margaret Masson, 84, from Glasgow, died from multiple injuries after a Virgin Pendolino London to Glasgow express train crashed on the West Coast Main Line near the remote village of Grayrigg.

The train derailed at 95mph after hitting a badly maintained and faulty set of points, with all nine carriages of the Class 390 tilting train coming off the tracks.

A further 86 passengers and two crew were injured, 28 seriously.

Mr Farron said: “It’s only fitting that Network Rail’s fine goes to help those who were first to provide assistance on the night. Sadly it is all too true that these wonderful volunteer services do have to hold out a hand for windfalls and without them they could not survive. I know that the mountain rescue teams supplied 2000 man hours of assistance in the first 24 hours of the Grayrigg crash and the Coalition Government would gain great respect in the eyes of both the victims and general public by investing some of the fine in the services that are so much in need of it.”

Replying to Mr Farron’s call in the Commons, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, said government values the organisation’s work but there were no plans to direct any of the fine to the mountain rescue service.

He added: “Like all fines and levies, fines imposed on Network Rail flow to the Consolidated Fund and go towards funding the public services as a whole, including contributions to mountain rescue services and clinical staff in the air ambulance services.”

Nick Owen, team leader of the Ambleside and Langdale Mountain Rescue Team, said any donations were greatly appreciated. His team was one of the first on the scene after the crash.

However, Mr Owen said he held out little hope of receiving a windfall as a result of the fine.

He said: “It never occurs to us to ask for any sort of payment.

“We do it because we enjoy it a great deal and get pleasure from it.

“I think it would be great if we did get a donation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the government isn’t giving away any money in the current climate.”

Have your say

What a brilliant idea !
Typical contemptible response by government.
They obviously want to make it into another paper exercise, playing their games with public money.

Posted by Resident on 27 May 2012 at 16:43

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