Thursday, December 10, 1998 Published at 15:28 GMT
Railtrack criticised as train deaths rise
The 1988 Clapham disaster: Crushed carriages claimed 35 lives
The Health and Safety Executive has said that Railtrack has not done enough to improve the condition of the UK's railways.
They criticised Railtrack, which runs the UK rail network, saying there were still too many derailments caused by poorly maintained tracks.
He criticised them for "several failings" in railway structure maintenance, including bridges.
The HSE also announced the results of a crash test involving old slam-door - or Mark 1 - train carriages, and released a video showing new safety technology in action.
On Wednesday the Commons Transport Committee said the Mark I carriages - some of which date back to the 1960s - posed a danger to passengers.
There are still about 2,000 of these doors in service. Most are used by commuters into London, many of whom pass through Clapham, scene of a rail crash 10 years ago that claimed 35 lives.
The accident highlighted the weakness of the Mark 1 design which led to carriages riding up on top of each other.
Railway inspectors want to make Mark 1 carriages safer.
"The problem is that they are essentially a pretty weak body onto a fairly rigid underframe and in the event of a collision, one underframe can ride over another and cause the body of the carriages to collapse. Of course that has quite dire consequences for the people in the carriages," said Mr Coleman.
The HSE has developed a new method using "cup and cone" safety device to counter the worst effects of a collision, which they demonstrated in the video.
Two carriages were crashed into each other at 30mph to demonstrate the success of the device in preventing the piggy-back effect.
The report also draws attention to failures with the automatic warning system (AWS) on some trains.
AWS was mentioned as a possible contributor to the Southall train crash in September 1997, which killed seven people.
The HSE said just after Southall, the Railway Inspectorate had informed train companies of regulations regarding the possible failure of the AWS.
The Health and Safety Commission chairman, Frank Davies, pointed out that the HSE report did also have some good news for rail travellers.
The HSE report, covering 1997 to 1998, published the following findings: