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Sunday, 12 December, 1999, 08:43 GMT
Paddington signal stays out of service

The Paddington disaster claimed the lives of 31 people

A rail signal at the centre of the inquiry into the horrific Paddington rail crash is expected to remain out of service for some time, it has been revealed.

London Train Crash
Railtrack said signal 109 would not be used again until investigations into the October tragedy were concluded.

It means 40mph speed restrictions in and out of Paddington station in west London will remain.

Thirty-one people died and more than 250 were injured when a Thames Trains collided with a London-bound Great Western express.

Interim reports by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the initial cause of the accident appeared to be that the Thames train passed signal 109 while it was on red.

Interim reports said signal 109 had been passed at red
Statistics showed that the signal was one of a number that had frequently been passed at danger.

After the accident, the HSE issued three enforcement notices, one of which prohibited the use of signal 109 until Railtrack took measures to prevent further occurrences of it being passed at danger.

The other two notices required Railtrack to act on the worst cases on the network of signals passed at danger (SPADs).

'Emphatically denied'

The latest stage of Railtrack's appeal against the notices is due to be heard on Monday in London.

The company says it will carry out the required work but objects to the wording of the notices, which it claims "accuses us of a breach of statutory provisions amounting to a criminal offence. This is emphatically denied".

Railtrack's appeal against the ban on signal 109 began last month.

The hearing was told by Britain's deputy inspector of railways, Dr Bob Smallwood, that it would have been "a dereliction of duty" not to have prevented the use of signal 109 following the Paddington disaster.

Mr Smallwood, who headed the HSE investigation at the site, said he feared further collisions on the line between Paddington and Acton stations if it was not closed down and modifications made.

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