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The BBC's Tom Symonds
"Railtrack are likely to be strongly criticized"
 real 56k

ATOC Director, Steve Bence
"Since the accident, we have done an awful lot of work"
 real 56k

The BBC's Dominic Arkwright
talks to a survivor and regular rail passenger at Kemble station in Gloucestershire
 real 28k

Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 08:28 GMT 09:28 UK
Crash report to censure rail firms

The train crash was the worst in a decade
A report highly critical of the mistakes and management failures that led to the Ladbroke Grove rail crash is being published.

Thirty-one people lost their lives when a Thames Trains commuter service collided almost head-on with a Great Western express near London's Paddington station on 5 October 1999.

The inquiry by Lord Cullen has been painstakingly thorough and will confirm that the primary cause was the failure of the Thames Trains driver to stop at a red signal as he left London.

We admitted that we perhaps hadn't done as much as we could at the time of the accident

Terry Worall, Thames Trains

The report out on Tuesday will say he was so sure the way ahead was safe that he began to accelerate just before the accident, which killed both train drivers.

Lord Cullen's report is expected to strongly criticise Railtrack for its management of the rail line itself.

There had been repeated warnings from safety managers at Great Western Trains that drivers were having problems correctly reading the signals on the Paddington line, which was amid a forest of gantries and power lines.
Lord Cullen
Lord Cullen will publish a second report into overall rail safety

Eight separate driver overruns were recorded at signal 109, which lies just beyond a low bridge.

Railtrack took no definitive action to make the signal easier to see.

But Thames Trains has accepted its share of the blame.

Managing Director Terry Worrall said: "There had been a problem with signals being passed at danger on that section.

"That is well known and has been made public."

'Poor driver training'

The company is expecting to be criticised in the report for the standards of its driver training - especially its failure to teach drivers which signals were more likely to be "passed at danger".

Mr Worrall said: "We believed that we could do better and we admitted that we perhaps hadn't done as much as we could at the time of the accident."

Thames Trains, along with other operators, has revamped its driver training programme.

Computer simulations are being developed to give employees working on the busy Paddington approach more experience before they take to the tracks.

But Mick Rix, general secretary of rail union Aslef, said safety conditions had not improved sufficiently since the Paddington crash.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There are still too many locations where there are badly-sited signals.

"Obviously, we need to see rapid improvements to ensure incidents caused by badly-sited signals do not lead to future tragedies."

This weekend Railtrack promised to take action.

Fall in incidents

The company is developing a new, less ambiguous type of railway signal - using fibre optic cables.

It is still at the prototype stage.

Even so, heightened awareness of the risks of passing red signals has led to a steady fall in incidents since the Ladbroke Grove crash.

Lord Cullen will publish a second report after this one examining the management of safety within the industry as a whole.

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