Fast tip-off gets radio reporter to crash scene

BBC Radio Cumbria was able to get to the scene of Friday's Virgin train crash after its producer's sister alerted them to the accident from a derailed carriage.

Kendal reporter Martin Kewes was able to get "a very fast tip" from the fact that producer Elisa Colton's sister, who was uninjured, had been on the train — the Virgin Trains London to Glasgow service, which crashed at Grayrigg, near Kendal, after 8pm.

Kewes was able to reach the scene before the police cordon went up, but was on the emergency services side of the embankment, the opposite side to where the train had derailed while travelling at about 95mph.

Kewes continued his report by going to the nearby houses where locals and train passengers they'd taken in could be interviewed.

In the early morning, Kewes was able to see the other side of the embankment and the full extent of the crash, which killed an 85-year-old woman and seriously injured 22 others.

Kewes, who has worked the patch for almost 20 years, said: "It was the first time I realised just how lucky it was that only one person died. It certainly gave me something to talk about. Something you don't do very often in radio but do on telly is something called a rant, an unscripted piece to camera."

Kewes said that the media's access to the emergency services meant they could talk to people on the ground.

"The nice thing about the fire and rescue service and the ambulance was that when they put people up for interview they put up someone of team leader level. They put up people who had actually done the work."

Local commercial station Lakeland Radio also pulled its regular programming, giving regular updates and interviews through the night.

"Our reporting stayed pretty continuous until 5am," said news editor Louisa King.

She said it was difficult to report, because reporters were not allowed near the site and the station was one journalist down because they had the weekend off, but otherwise "it was all hands on deck".

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