The management of the heritage railway has pledged to learn lessons the sooner the better after a volunteer died when he was crushed between two steam train carriages in an incident at Grosmont.
A series of investigations have begun after volunteer, retired policeman Robert Lund (65), known as Bob, was killed on the line on Monday when he was uncoupling the carriages in an operation that has been done “countless times”.
Investigations are now being carried out by steam train operator the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR), the British Transport Police, the Rail Accident Investigation branch and the Office of Rail Regulation.
NYMR’s Philip Benham has spoken exclusively to the Whitby Gazette about the urgent need to get to the bottom of what happened and also the shock and devastation felt by the NYMR team.
He said: “Volunteers give their time for free and they do it because they want to serve the railway.
“An incident like this is devastating to the whole railway.
“You can imagine there is a very sombre mood around the railway and there will be for a very long time to come. We are sorry for Bob’s wife and his family and we only wish we could do something that eases the pain but we can’t.”
He conceded that “something went wrong” and the organisation must conduct its own investigation alongside that of the authorities.
Mr Benham said: “Clearly something went wrong and we need to find out what that was and what we can do to make sure it never happens again.”
He explained that Mr Lund, from Beverley, had been with the NYMR for 14 years as a ticket operator and then as a guard, and was a very experienced member of the team.
Mr Lund was uncoupling one carriage from another which has to be done manually, unlike modern trains where it can be done automatically.
Mr Benham said: “Bob was an extremely conscientious, careful and reliable member of staff.
“He was the sort of person you would use to train other people.
“The operation is one that has been done countless times safely.
“There are rules but clearly on this occasion, something went wrong, but what went wrong, until the investigation has run its course, it would be wrong to speculate.
“Our investigation is going to take about a week, we can do it relatively quickly and we want to do it because if there is lessons that we need to learn soon, the sooner we learn them the better.”
He added the NYMR, which is now open as usual, is co-operating fully with the investigations of the British Transport Police and the rail authorities.
Mr Lund’s family have said Bob was “always a keen railway enthusiast” and have asked to be left alone to grieve privately.
A spokesperson for the British Transport Police said: “BTP officers were called to Grosmont rail station on Monday following a report of an incident involving a member of staff working on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
“BTP and North Yorkshire Police officers attended the incident which was reported to BTP at 12.30pm, and is believed to be non-suspicious.
“Paramedics also attended but the man was pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation is still ongoing to establish the full circumstances surrounding Mr Lund’s death. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch and Office of Rail Regulation have been informed. A file will be prepared for the coroner.”