Woman cried out to dying mother in rail crash

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An inquest into the death of a pensioner in the Grayrigg train crash has heard how her daughter cried out “Mum! Mum! Mum!” as she lay fatally injured.

Margaret Langley lay injured next to her 84-year-old mother in the wrecked train carriage which careered off the rails at 95mph, turning 190 degrees as it slid down an embankment.

Margaret Masson died from her injuries hours after the Virgin Pendolino London to Glasgow express train derailed on the West Coast Main Line near the village of Grayrigg 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.

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.

Mrs Masson, known as Peggy, from Glasgow, had got on at Preston, Lancashire, accompanied by her daughter Mrs Langley and her husband Richard, who were accompanying her home after she had stayed with them for a week.

They had been due to travel the next day but instead decided to catch the Friday night express back to Glasgow, the inquest at the County Offices in Kendal heard.

On the first day of the three-week hearing, a statement from Richard Langley, who has since died, was read, telling how they were settling down for their journey when chaos erupted after just over 30 minutes.

“The next thing I recall is being six feet in the air,” his statement read.

Drifting in and out of consciousness Mr Langley, 63, a retired train conductor, ended up wedged in between a table and the carriage wall as the carriage came to rest on its side.

“Margaret was lying on her stomach face down. Peggy was lying directly across Margaret, on her stomach face down. Peggy was shouting, ‘Margaret! Margaret! Margaret!’ and Margaret was just saying, ‘Mum! Mum! Mum!’

“I think Peggy called out on two other occasions. Margaret was not panicking at all, she was just talking to her mum.”

Mr Langley was airlifted to hospital where he had a life-saving lung operation while Mrs Masson was rushed by Sea King helicopter to the Royal Lancaster Hospital but died the same night.

Mrs Langley told the jury she recalled settling down for the journey at Preston, and her next memory was “waking up in hospital”.

Pathologist Dr Margaret Stewart, said Mrs Masson had suffered lacerations, fractures, extensive bruising, collapsed lungs and extensive blood loss.

Driver Mr Black told the inquest the locomotive “leapt in the air” and was tossed around the cab as his train came off the rails at the faulty points.

Mr Black, 50, who had been driving trains for seven years, took over at the controls at Preston.

He broke his neck in the crash, having been knocked out by hitting the ceiling before landing on the dashboard. Despite serious injuries and drifting in and out of consciousness, he used his mobile phone to call his then partner, Jan, now his wife, who also worked for Virgin trains, to alert others of the danger.

Prashant Popat QC, representing Network Rail, commended him for his warning call.

The hearing continues today.