Passengers re-live horror of woman setting herself alight on a train

Fire on a train Credit: ITV Anglia

Rail passengers have been reliving the terrible moment when a woman set herself alight.

Rachel James, a paranoid schizophrenic, took her own life on board a London Midland train at Leighton Buzzard last April.

An inquest in Bedford, today heard she'd chosen the 14th anniversary of the day she killed her five year old son.

For passengers on board the Northampton to Euston service last year, April 11 is a date they are unlikely to forget.

For Rachel James it was a anniversary that tormented her.

Fourteen years ealier the 43 year old paranoid schizophrenic killed her five year old son Perry during a phsycotic episode, and attempted to kill his nine year old brother.

In 1997 our cameras captured her arrest at the family home in Hemel Hempstead.

She spent ten years in a mental health hospital for her son's manslaughter but she had been released to live alone in the community.

The day before her death she stayed the night with friends Marlene and John Glover.

On April 11 they agreed to travel with her on the train part of the way to London.

Just before the train was due to pull into Leighton Buzzard station, she kissed her friends goodbye and went to use the toilet. An explosion followed and the train came to a sudden halt. The carriages then began to fill with thick black smoke.

Screams of agony were heard coming from inside the toilet cubicle and passenger Christopher Gardener, told the inquest how he tried in vain to open the door.

It emerged after her death that Rachel had taken a petrol can from her friends garage and concealed in her bag.

The inquest in Bedford heard how the mother of four had stopped taking her anti-psychotic medicine a year before her suicide.

Friends described how her moods were often up and down but at the time she did not appear suicidal.

Deputy Coroner for Bedfordshire Bob Amos found the care she received was adequate and recorded a verdict of suicide.