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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 April, 2004, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Rail safety system facing delays
Paddington crash scene
Safety measures were suggested after the crash in 1999
A radio system for train drivers recommended after the Paddington rail crash has been delayed by five years.

The system, allowing signallers to speak to a number of drivers at the same time, will be delayed from 2008 to 2013 - 14 years after the crash.

It was a safety measure recommended after the crash between two trains in 1999 in which 31 people died after a driver went through a red light.

The Paddington Survivors Group said it was disappointed by the delay.

The delays in what is known as the GSM-Radio system had come about because the initial timescale was too optimistic, Network Rail said.

'Realistic timescale'

About 10,000 miles of cables need to be laid and 2,000 masts need to be put up for the network to work, a spokesman said.

The probability is there will be four or five major crashes before this communication system is in place
Paddington Survivors Group

"A realistic timescale has been set for this massive project," he added.

The survivors group was critical of the delay and warned it could put lives in danger.

"Given that serious rail crashes have occurred on average every two years, the probability is that there will be four or five major crashes before this communication system is in place.

"Surely that risk is enough to make Network Rail reconsider this 'money before safety' decision."

The radio system would be more reliable than the existing one and allow better communication between signallers and drivers.

It would also carry data for a new computerised control system aimed at making the network safer. The computer system will not be in place until 2015.

Record fine

Network Rail denied the current system in the south of England would have to share frequencies with outside users.

This is something Ofcom, which regulates the communications industry, says it will not allow.

Earlier this week Thames Trains was fined a record 2m over health and safety breaches leading to the crash.

The Old Bailey ruled it had failed to properly train its driver who passed a red light at Ladbroke Grove in west London colliding with a First Great Western train.

The BBC's Tom Symonds
"Some of the radios in train cabs are 20 years old"

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