Selby rail crash

Selby rail crash

infobox UK rail accident
title= Selby Rail Crash
date= 28 February 2001, 06:13 GMT
location= Selby, Yorkshire
line = East Coast Main Line
cause= Vehicle on tracks
trains= 2
deaths= 10
injuries= 82
The Selby rail crash was a high-speed train accident that occurred at Great Heck near Selby, Yorkshire, England on the morning of 28 February 2001. Six passengers and four railway staff were killed and 82 people suffered serious injuries.


The crash happened at approximately 0613 (GMT), when a Land Rover driven by Gary Hart and towing a loaded trailer swerved off the M62 motorway just before a bridge over the East Coast Main Line. The vehicle ran down an embankment and onto the southbound railway track. Hart tried to reverse it off the track, but he could not. As he was using a mobile telephone to call the emergency services, it was hit by a southbound GNER Intercity 225 heading from Newcastle to London King's Cross at over 120 mph.

The Intercity 225 was propelled by Class 91 No. 91023 and led by a Driving Van Trailer (DVT). The leading bogie of the DVT derailed but the train stayed upright until points to nearby sidings deflected it into the path of an oncoming freight train travelling from Immingham to Ferrybridge hauled by a Class 66/5 No. 66521 about half a mile (642 metres) from the impact with the Land Rover. The driver of 66521, Stephen Dunn, and the GNER driver, John Weddle, were killed. From the Intercity 225, six passengers and two other train crew (Raymond Robson, a train guard; and Paul Taylor, a chef) also died. Survivors of the accident included a train-driving instructor (Andrew Hill), who was travelling in the cab of 66521 and teaching a new route to Dunn, a driver with 24 years of experience. Immediately before the impact of the two trains, the speed of the IC225 was estimated as 88 mph and that of the freight train as 54 mph. With an estimated closing speed of 142 mph, the collision between the trains is the highest speed railway incident that has occurred in the UK. [cite news
last = Wainwright
first = Martin
title = Rail crash inquiry calls for monitors
publisher = Guardian Unlimited
date = 5 December 2002
url =
accessdate = 25 August 2008
] Hart escaped the collision unscathed. He claimed that his car had suffered a mechanical fault, or had collided with an object on the road. However, an investigation, including reconstruction of the Land Rover to demonstrate that it was not mechanically defective, concluded that Hart had been driving in a sleep-deprived condition, and had not applied the brakes as it went down the embankment. It later transpired that Hart had stayed up the previous night talking on the telephone to a woman he had met via an Internet dating agency. [cite news
title = Crash driver's marathon phone chats
publisher = BBC
date = 13 December 2001
url =
accessdate = 25 August 2008


Hart was tried on ten counts of causing death by dangerous driving. On 13 December 2001 he was found guilty, and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. He was released after serving half his sentence, for cooperation.

Campaigners have drawn attention to the inadequate length of the crash barriers alongside the road. According to the Health and Safety Executive's final report, the Land Rover had left the road some 24 metres before the barrier started, and had easily broken through the simple wooden fence that lined the track. However, a 2003 Highways Agency review of crash barriers on bridges over railways concluded that only three bridges nationwide were in need of upgrading. The bridge at Great Heck was not one of them. Gary Hart attempted to sue the Department for Transport for a contribution to the damages he was liable to pay to GNER and the victims, on the grounds that the safety barrier was inadequate, but the case was dismissed. [cite court
litigants = GNER v Hart
vol = [2003]
reporter = EWHC
opinion = 2450 (QB)
date = 30 October 2003

Hart is supported by campaigner Scott Lomax who argues that the Selby rail disaster was the culmination of many circumstances, with numerous factors of which Hart was only one. Lomax alleges that the disaster occurred due to a lack of safety measures which, had they been in place, would have prevented the accident from occurring. [An article for the Portia campaign website -]


*In a bizarre coincidence, No. 91023 was also involved in the Hatfield rail crash some months earlier. The locomotive escaped with only slight damage on both occasions. Following technical upgrade of the Class 91 fleet, which led to all locomotives having 100 added to the number (91001 became 91101, etc), 91023 was renumbered 91132, not 91123, to appease superstitious drivers.
*An unusual aspect of the emergency response was the need to carry out disinfecting procedures at the scene due to the foot and mouth epidemic in the UK at the time of the incident.
*66526 has since been named "Driver Steve Dunn (George)", in memory of the Freightliner driver killed in the accident. It carries a plaque commemorating the accident.


External links

* [ BBC News reports on the crash and its aftermath]
* [ Article by Scott Lomax arguing Gary Hart's innocence]
* [ Office of Rail Regulation] - downloadable reports
* [ Highways Agency] - crash report

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