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Two Trains Collide, At Least One Killed

September 20, 1986

STAFFORD, England (AP) _ Two express trains packed with weekend commuters collided during the rush hour Friday in central England. Police said one of the locomotive engineers was killed and 60 passengers were injured.

They said an earlier report that a passenger also was killed in the accident was incorrect.

State-run British Rail said about 400 people were aboard the trains that were speeding through Staffordshire at about 100 mph. One was heading north from London to Liverpool, the other south from Manchester to London.

One of the trains delivered a ″glancing blow″ to the other at a junction about six miles from Stafford, a railroad spokesman said.

″It is a miracle more people were not killed,″ said police superintendent Bernard Bryan, who lives nearby and was one of the first on the scene.

The railroad initially said the express trains hit head-on and that as many as 100 people were hurt. But it later lowered the casualty count and changed its version of the accident. It said 36 people were hurt seriously.

British Rail spokesman Ian Tompkins said the accident occurred at a point where the southbound train crossed the northbound train’s tracks, and 11 cars overturned.

Bryan said rescue teams arrived within minutes, and local residents comforted the injured, giving them tea and sandwiches.

One survivor, British Broadcasting Corp. reporter Colin Philpott, said passengers ″felt a shuddering before the crash, as if the train was suddenly slowing down.

″Then there was a more severe shudder, and we stopped,″ Philpott said. ″We clambered out and saw some coaches pointing into the air. We reckoned at least six coaches had been concertinaed into each other.″

Bernard Lucas of Manchester said he was in the last coach of the Manchester-bound train.

″People in our carriage were flung onto the floor by the impact of the collision,″ Lucas said. ″The driver’s cab of our train was well stuck through the other train and many coaches were derailed.″

Said British Rail general manager Cyril Bleasdale: ″It is quite clear that one train ran into the other, and we shall be holding an inquiry to find out exactly what happened. Until then I cannot speculate.″

The last major rail crash in England was in July, when nine people were killed when a passenger train hit a van at a crossing in Humberside, eastern England.