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Courageous train driver praised by Sir Richard Branson

Press Release   •   Feb 23, 2007 23:00 GMT

Sir Richard The train driver in charge of last night’s 17:15 Virgin Trains’ service from London Euston to Glasgow Central, which became derailed near Oxenholme, has been praised for his courage by Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson.

“The driver did an amazing job,” said Sir Richard at the site of the accident. “He stayed in his seat for a quarter of a mile to control the train as it came off the rails, and didn’t try to protect himself by running back into the coach behind. Regrettably he sustained quite serious injuries to his neck. I wish him well in making a full recovery.

“This is a very sad and horrible day, but last night the emergency services were brilliant. As a human being I’m here, and if my children had been on that train I would expect the company to come and learn from it and to show sympathy to the victims.

“The Pendolino performed brilliantly. We transport many millions of passengers and have spent a lot of money on Pendolinos. If you are going to have a massive accident, a Pendolino is the safest train to be in.

“The train itself stood up remarkably well, it’s built like a tank. If this had been an old train the injuries would have been horrendous. Pendolinos have solid crumple zones and most managed to walk away.

“The train has proved itself, is formidable and strong, and the basic fabric of the train stayed intact. Damage to the carriages is negligible, the lights stayed on and the windows didn’t break. As far as safety is concerned, rail is massively more safe than the car.

“I went to the hospitals this morning to talk to the doctors and I’ve seen some of the people who were on the train. We’ve been in the transportation business for 20 years and you always dread that you are going to get that kind of call.

“I was on holiday with my family in Switzerland, noticed ten messages on my phone and thought that there was something wrong. I’m always concerned for passengers and at that stage some were still trapped on the train and we didn’t know how many were injured.”

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