AN RAF navigator who survived the Potters Bar Rail Crash said he grabbed on to a baggage rack to save his life as the stricken train careered off the tracks.

Wing Commander Martin Rose,42, was in the first class carriage of the fourth section of the train which left the rails on May 10, 2002 and crashed into Potters Bar station.

He said: “I blindly reached out and managed to get hold of a rail on the baggage rack. I felt something, grabbed on to that, and held on with one hand.

“It was enough to save my life.”

The experienced airman said he felt “momentary negative G” weightlessness as the carriage began to roll, and likened the initial impact of the crash to being in a tumble dryer.

He said: “I was aware that we had derailed, based on the fact that we were bouncing on the track.

“I was trying to stay in my seat but I couldn't. There was a lot of movement, a lot of juddering.”

Mr Rose was traveling that afternoon to his new post at RAF Marham, just outside King's Lynn, and met on his journey husband and wife Austen Kark and author Nina Bawden.

He lost consciousness after the crash, but when he woke he found Mr Kark and Mrs Bawden seriously injured in the carriage.

He said: “It was disbelief when I came to, I really wasn't expecting that.

“I found the gentleman first, wedged between the side of the carriage and the seat. He was lying crumpled up just below the window.

“I attempted to lift him out of the position standing on the arm of the seat bending down. He was absolutely unresponsive, there appeared to be no signs of life.”

Mr Rose, 46, stayed with Mrs Bawden, who was also seriously injured, talking to her to keep her awake, until the paramedics arrived.

Mr Kark, 75, of Islington, died from his injuries but his wife survived. Mrs Bawden and Mr Rose, who flew in from Kuwait specially for today's hearing, have kept in touch following the crash and have become good friends.

John Hendy, representing the relative of the people who died in the crash, said: “On behalf of the Kark family, I want to say how grateful they are for what you tried to do for Mr Kark and what you did for Nina.”

Mr Rose, who injured his leg in the crash, joined others who were wounded in the nearby Sainsburys which that day became a makeshift hospital.