AN inquiry team looking into the cause of the Newton rail crash

yesterday retraced the routes of the trains involved in the crash.

The solicitors and advocates taking part in the inquiry convened in

the front carriage of a ScotRail train with Sheriff Brian Lockhart.

The 23-strong party, without their traditional wigs and gowns, met on

a low-level platform at Glasgow's Central station to reconstruct the


The trains, driven by Mr David Scott and Mr Reg McEwan, collided in

July 1991 on a single track section of line outside Newton station,

killing four people and injuring 22.

The pomp and ceremony of the proceedings, normally held at Glasgow

Sheriff Court, were waived as the team waited for the Newton special --

an antique train brought specially into service to allow them a driver's

eye view of the crash scene.

There was a respectful silence as the train set off on the route taken

by Mr Scott, who was driving the Balloch to Motherwell train on the

night of the accident.

It was interrupted only by the BR inquiry chief, Mr Vic Gilchrist, who

took up a running commentary outside Cambuslang station.

Each signal and section of track were graphically described as the

train proceeded slowly to the crash site. There was silence as the train

passed over the set of points where the two trains collided head-on.

The commentary was resumed as the train passed through Newton station

and the Turnback Sidings, where Mr McEwan's train was held immediately

before the collision.

At Motherwell, the party were bussed to the signalling centre which

controlled the new #5m junction layout at Newton.

They were shown the panel at which the signalman, Mr Edward Dillon,

set the courses for the trains on the night of the accident, and the

restroom where he was making tea moments before the crash.

The intricacies of signalling procedures, which the team had followed

on photographs and diagrams in court for more than two weeks, were

explained to them on site.

Later, as they passed the scene of the crash again, Sheriff Lockhart

called the train to a halt to allow the court to see for itself the

point of impact.

Mr Gilchrist pointed out the railside section of fencing which had

been renewed after the trains ploughed through it.

It was one of the highest speed collisions ever in the history of BR

operations. Crash investigator, Mr John Lowis, said the two trains would

have met at between 55 and 70mph.

Other witnesses have described how the trains ''telescoped'' into each

other, making fatalities inevitable.

Back in court, a BR technical expert, Mr Donald Newing, said the

chances of a fault in the failsafe solid-state interlocking system,

which controls signals and points, being responsible for the accident

were several billion to one.

Under the system, which was introduced in the mid-1980s, three

separate processors check each other's calculations before signals


The inquiry continues.