Driver and conductor killed in Stonehaven trail derailment named

13 August 2020, 07:30

The ScotRail train came off the tracks on Wednesday morning
The ScotRail train came off the tracks on Wednesday morning. Picture: Getty
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

An official investigation has begun into the train crash which killed three people in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire.

Aerial shots appear to show one carriage completely overturned after the service from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street came off the tracks near Stonehaven on Wednesday morning.

British Transport Police (BTP) said those pronounced dead at the scene near Stonehaven include the train's driver.

Train operator ScotRail confirmed the three who died were the driver, the conductor and a passenger.

The identity of the passenger remains unknown, but the driver and conductor have been named locally as Brett McCullough and Donald Dinnie respectively.

Train derailment near Stonehaven: What we know so far

BTP Chief superintendent Eddie Wylie said: "This is a tragic incident and first and foremost our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have very sadly died this morning.

"We remain on scene alongside our emergency service colleagues and a major incident operation has been under way.

"I would like to reassure the public that this was not a busy service and from CCTV inquiries and witness statements we believe all passengers have been accounted for.

"However, once the area has been made safe then a full and thorough search will be conducted, which is likely to take some time.

"I know many people will understandably have questions, and the investigation will be directed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

"We will be working closely with them, alongside the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and the Office of Rail and Road to establish the full circumstances of how the train came to derail."

Local resident sees plume of smoke after train derails in Scotland

Mick Lynch, RMT assistant general secretary, said: "The confirmation that there have been three fatalities in the Stonehaven derailment, including the driver and one of our conductor members, is the most dreadful news.

"This trade union's thoughts are with the families, colleagues and friends of those who have lost their lives in this tragedy.

"RMT will unite to provide support, assistance and solidarity at this distressing time.

"Safety on the railway has to be an absolute priority and this union will be working with the various agencies to establish the facts behind this disaster which has sent shock waves right throughout our industry."

'Major incident' as train derails in Scotland following torrential rain

The Queen sent a message of condolence to the Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire following the rail crash.

She said: "It was with great sadness that I heard of the train derailment earlier today in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire.

"The Duke of Edinburgh, and the entire Royal Family, join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who have died and those who have been injured.

"Our thanks go out to the emergency services for their response and dedication."

Speaking outside Stonehaven Police Station, Chief Inspector Brian McAleese also said the Crown Office will direct the investigation.

Rail industry sources told PA the train, comprising of a locomotive and four carriages, stopped due to a landslip and moved back along the line when it crashed into another landslip.

It is understood the locomotive and three carriages derailed and slid down an embankment with the Aslef train drivers' union saying it then caught fire.

A Sepa spokeswoman said: "Between the hours of 0600 and 1000 on Wednesday 12 August, 79mm of rain was recorded at the Sepa rain gauge at Dunnotter (Stonehaven)."

Dozens of emergency service vehicles, including an air ambulance, were called to the scene at about 9.40am.

Unions called the crash a "tragedy" as a major incident was declared at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "My deepest condolences are with the loved ones of those who lost their lives in this tragic incident.

"I have just been updated by Network Rail and the emergency services on the ongoing operation.

"My thanks go to them, and my thoughts remain with everyone affected."

She also tweeted the NHS Grampian helpline number, adding: "Anyone worried about friends or family involved in the Stonehaven rail incident can call 01224 319519 for advice and support."

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he held emergency meetings on the derailment and is liaising with Network Rail Scotland and ScotRail.

He plans to visit the scene on Thursday morning and told the BBC: "My thoughts go out to the families, the friends, all those who have been involved in what's happened today."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also tweeted: "I am saddened to learn of the very serious incident in Aberdeenshire and my thoughts are with all of those affected. My thanks to the emergency services at the scene."

ScotRail managing director Alex Hynes said the rail operator is working with the emergency services on site as well as the relevant authorities to establish the cause of the incident.

Pledging to do "all we can to support those affected", he added: "Our thoughts are with those who have been affected by this tragic event, particularly the families of those who have lost their lives."

It is the second time a train has derailed in the area in the past two years, with no-one injured in the previous incident involving a non-passenger service in October 2018.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said: "We are saddened to learn about the incident in Aberdeenshire today and our thoughts are with those affected.

"While an investigation will follow, our current focus is to provide every support we can in the immediate response."

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Barney Crockett, said: "On behalf of the City of Aberdeen I extend my heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the families of those lost in this terrible accident.

"Our thoughts are also very much with those injured. The North East of Scotland is a tight-knit community and the impact of today's derailment will be felt across the region.

"Hopefully we can draw strength from each other in the difficult days ahead, especially those most affected."