A BRITISH Transport policeman yesterday told how he discovered three

dead people when he crawled through the tangled wreckage after two

trains had collided head-on at Newton, near Glasgow.

He said that about 400 local residents were at the scene when he

arrived. Three of these residents were among those who gave evidence in

Glasgow yesterday on the first day of the fatal accident inquiry into

the rail crash in which four people died and 30 were injured.

Mr Ronald McEwan, 28, said he was sent to the crash from the

Rutherglen training centre of British Transport Police on the night of

July 21, 1991. A #5m single-lead junction had been installed weeks


The four dead were train drivers Mr Reginald McEwan, 61, and Mr David

Scott, 27, and passengers Mr Kenneth Meechan, 20, and Ms Tracey

Donnachie, 18. Mr McEwan told how he climbed through a broken window

where he discovered three of the dead.

Mr Thomas Florence, 61, of Halfway, Cambuslang, was preparing to leave

for his work at Hoover, Cambuslang, when he heard something that sounded

like an explosion. He said that he realised immediately there had been a

train crash.

When he reached the trackside Mr Florence saw some carriages lying on

their side. ''You couldn't say which train they belonged to. It was just

a mass of twisted metal,'' he said.

Mr William Devlin, 38, of Westburn, Cambuslang, said he was on the

scene minutes after hearing an ''enormous bang''.

He climbed through a window of one train before the emergency services

arrived and saw the bodies of a young woman and a young man lying in the

wreckage. Another man had a huge gash on his head.

Mr John Mooney, an off-duty ScotRail employee, of Halfway, Cambuslang,

said he was at the scene minutes after hearing the crash.

''There was a lot of confusion. By the time I got there people were

starting to come out of the two trains,'' he said.

Mr Mooney, realising the seriousness of the crash, ran towards Newton

station and phoned signal headquarters at Motherwell.

Questioned by procurator-fiscal Andrew Normand on the reaction of the

signalman at Motherwell, he replied: ''He was aware that something had

happened. He seemed okay. There was no panic.''

Mr Mooney asked him to switch the power off at Newton junction as he

feared there was the danger of electrocution from live wires.

Mr James Coyle, 46, an assistant firemaster with Strathclyde Fire

Brigade, who was in charge of B division including Cambuslang, ordered

two rescue teams to search the trains.

The four bodies were found before long, he said.

Sheriff Brian Lockhart had earlier emphasised that many technical

points would be put during the expected six week duration of the


Mr Victor Gilchrist, 52, Scotrail's retail manager and area manager of

Glasgow South-west, including Newton junction, from May 1988 to

September 1990, told the inquiry he had no direct involvement in the

Newton resignalling.

Mr Allan Gore, representing the widow of Mr Reginald McEwan, one of

the drivers killed in the accident, said that before the junction

modernisation the two trains involved could not have been on the same

piece of track at one time.

Mr Gilchrist, appointed by ScotRail to co-ordinate investigations

about the Newton accident, replied: ''That is my understanding.''

Mr Gilchrist said, at the time of the crash, about 300 trains used the

Newton junction each day with 170 on Sundays. But only eight trains a

hour actually entered the station.

The inquiry continues.