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"It doesn't help the train improve passenger confidence in the system"
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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 15:11 GMT
Collision train 'passed red light'
One of the trains involved
One of the trains may have passed a danger signal
One of the trains involved in a rail collision near London which injured nine passengers may have gone through a red light.

Two Connex South East Networker trains clipped each other outside Hither Green station near Lewisham in south east London at about 0835 GMT on Monday.

They were travelling to London Cannon Street from stations in Sevenoaks and Crayford in Kent.

Connex said there was a "probability" the driver of the Sevenoaks train may have passed a danger signal.

It was either signal passed at danger or a problem with the signalling equipment

Olivier Brousse, Connex
Connex's managing director Olivier Brousse said: "It was either signal passed at danger or a problem with the signalling equipment."

Of the nine people who needed treatment after the accident, eight had suffered shock and one had whiplash injuries.

The trains - which both had about 500 people on board - hit each other and suffered minor damage in the incident, British Transport Police said.

"It was a very minor collision in which the two trains just clipped sides," said a spokesman.

Connex said the Crayford train had been given a green light signal and had just left Hither Green station at around 20 mph.

But they had not yet established how fast the Sevenoaks train was travelling.


Passengers from the Crayford train were able to exit their train via the platform at Hither Green.

Customers on the Sevenoaks train were led to safety after the power to the line had been switched off and all trains in the area were halted.

One passenger said a man was stretchered from the train by paramedics and had a neck brace on, while others were ushered off in blankets looking shocked.

A Connex spokesman said injuries were confined to neck injuries and cuts and bruises., but that people were "a bit shaken up" after the collision.

Connex confirmed that both train drivers had been breathalysed and that the Sevenoaks train driver was being interviewed.

The Health and Safety Executive launched an immediate inquiry into the accident which happened less than two weeks after 10 people died in the Selby rail crash.

'Screeching halt'

Passenger Karen O'Mahoney, 27, from Mottingham, south east London, said the eight-carriage Crayford train came to a "screeching halt" just after it left Hither Green station.

"The train was just coming out of the platform when it stopped very sharply," said the advertising executive.

Nine passengers were injured in the accident
"At first we thought it had come off the rails or there had been an incident up ahead. We didn't realise we had actually hit something.

"I was just thinking about how close we might have come to something worse, particularly with everything else that has happened on the trains."

Mr Brousse stressed that the accident was a minor collision.

He said: "You shouldn't jump on that and say that the network isn't safe. In terms of trends the number of most serious signals passed at danger is declining within Connex.

"Safety is not a perfect science. Each time we have a crash we have got to learn from it and prevent it happening again."

Hither Green was the scene of one of the worst British rail crashes of the second half of the 20th century when 49 people were killed and 78 hurt in November 1967.

Ten years earlier - in December 1957 - 90 were killed and 173 hurt in a crash at nearby Lewisham.

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28 Feb 01 | UK
Chronology of rail crashes
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