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Network Rail warned about dangerous landslips just weeks before Stonehaven train tragedy

NETWORK Rail was warned about dangerous landslips four weeks before yesterday’s Scottish train tragedy, which killed three people.

A passenger train ploughed into a landslide in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire and derailed in Wednesday’s rail horror.

“Lovely” dad Brett McCullough, 45, the driver, died alongside “absolute gem” Donald Dinnie, the conductor, and a passenger.

Six people were taken to hospital, but are not believed to be seriously hurt.

Network Rail today announced it will carry out specialist inspections of “higher risk” trackside slopes with similar characteristics.

It comes after an annual health and safety report by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) recently noted a rise in landslips.

The report highlighted the “vulnerability” of the track network to severe weather.

It said Network Rail’s plans to tackle climate change and extreme weather were “not keeping up with the frequency and severity of these events”.

Speaking after the report was published last month, HM chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser said: “The last year saw significant increases in flooding, earthwork failures and trains striking trees on the line, which had a big impact on the number of delays on the network.

“It is so important that the sector employs best practice if we are to meet all the pressures on the network in the future and to make sure the railway plays its full role on climate change and reducing carbon emissions.”

A Network Rail spokesman said at the time: “Our climate is changing and we’re seeing more and more of these types of incidents.

“We are acutely aware they must be addressed and we have drawn up comprehensive plans to do so.”

In yesterday’s crash, the engine is reported to have burst into flames after the carriages buckled and one rolled down a steep embankment yesterday.

According to a rail industry source, the Aberdeen to Glasgow ScotRail service had already reversed from another landslip caused by fierce storms and switched to a different set of tracks.

It comes just four weeks after the rail watchdog warned about a spike in landslips on tracks.

Dramatic images show a tangle of mangled carriages from the wreckage on the tracks after the horror unfolded at around 9.45am in Stonehaven.

What we know so far:

Last night, heartbroken relatives and colleagues of two of the victims told of their agony.

Married Mr McCullough lives around from 15 minutes from the crash site with his young family.

One pal told the Daily Record: “He’s been in the railways for about six years and is a lovely man.”

A devastated cousin announced Mr Dinnie was the second victim of the crash.

Tributes have poured in for Mr Dinnie, described as “an absolute gem” who “always had a smile on his face”.

Heartbroken Lisa Spark wrote on Facebook: “So sad that one of our relatives Donald Dinnie was a victim of the train accident in Aberdeen. Why is it always the good ones?”

Paying tribute to Mr Dinnie, of Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Linda Patrick said: “An absolute gem of a guy he will be sadly missed by lots if people.”

Friend Marie Ewan wrote on Facebook: “Can’t believe I’m writing this, RIP Don. You will never be forgotten.

“Jenna and William are going to be looking for the brightest star in the sky and they will know it’s you.

“Keep the smile on your face like always.”

The train derailed four miles south of Stonehaven station in Carmont, Aberdeenshire, at around 9.45am.

One local told how farmers ran to help and said: “They could not believe what they saw.

“It was like something out of a movie.”

Farmer Ronald Farquhar, 69, added: “I could see the smoke coming up through the trees and I knew it was bad. It’s just horrible.”

Around 30 emergency vehicles, including two air ambulances, rushed to the scene.

It is thought some had trouble crossing a flooded ford.

More than 2.5ins of rain had fallen during thunderstorms from 5am and 7am.

It comes just a month after the Office of Rail and Road warned there were six times as many floods on railways in 2019/20 than the previous year.

PM Boris Johnson said his thoughts were with those affected.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon expressed her “deepest condolences”.

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines is cutting short a family holiday in Italy to return

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he would visit the site today.

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