Wednesday, October 6, 1999 Published at 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Your initial reaction to London's rail disaster
Read the first comments we received from BBC News Online users, in the aftermath of the rail disaster.
Brenne Buckley, UK
Is it not again proof of 30+ years of lack of investment in the infrastructure linked to the company's overriding emphasis on delivering share holder value. My thoughts go to all involved and their families. May this never happen again.
You take train travel for granted these days - I was travelling through here on the 7.43 Paddington train. If we can put men in space, surely we can run a train service without tragic accidents like this?
When are the government going to take heed that our railway system is probably more dangerous than travelling by car. How many more days like this are we going to see? Most of them probably don't even use the rail service, so its probably not that important to them anyway!!!
Swift coverage, but deeply offensive to home in, even in passing, on Jilly Cooper who seems not to be seriously hurt when 6 people have died and hundreds been injured. Celebrities are not more important than other victims. Your priorities are wrong.
I hope that the enquiry will be in less than 2yrs and that the lessons will be learnt this time.
We are told to belt up when we get in a car. We are told to belt up when we take a plane. Why are we not belting up on trains. They are going faster and faster, the traffic on the tracks is increasing every year. Why can't the government look past their noses? Frankly, I AM FURIOUS THAT SUCH A CRASH CAN HAPPEN AGAIN. TELL THE GOVERNMENT TO DO SOMETHING NOW,TODAY, NOT TOMORROW....NOW!
If this is the fault of Great Western trains jumping red lights again they should have their license to run trains immediately revoked. One of our colleagues normally catches that train, and was fortunate he was due in late this morning. We do not know about the others yet...
When Great Western first got the rail contract there was concern as their track record for freight trains accidents was the worst in America. Someone should answer for allowing them to get the contract in the first place to carry people.
Do the Hospitals need Blood? If they do, it would be good to launch an appeal over the various web news services.
Having worked for Westinghouse Signals a little under 10 years ago I am aware of the Automatic Train Protection and Automatic Train Supervision technology that is available to prevent disasters like this and the Southall crash. People continue to die while government and corporates fail to put in place the safety systems that a modern train system needs. I am fed up of the cover-ups and the scapegoating of junior staff. It's time Labour put money and legislation where it's mouth is and arrests this needless loss of life.
Surely it is time for the government to consider stronger Laws in relation to corporate manslaughter?
The officers of the companies involved should be liable for deaths caused by their inaction or negligence. If this were coupled with a reduction in the emphasis on punctuality I believe safety would be significantly improved.
Surely public safety is more important than political concerns about public reaction to late trains?
It sticks in my throat that so soon after a disaster like this the Tories are trying to make political capital from it, blaming the government for not taking enough action. Perhaps when the dust has settled we will see that the privatisation of the railways that made profit the first priority is the cause of accidents like this and maybe Prescott will have the strength to renationalise the railways.
I am sorry to hear about this tragedy. Condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. It seems that the world is facing more natural and man made disasters as we approach the end of this century, or is it just that we are more aware of these accidents and tragedies than ever before.
I am living in Notting Hill (next to Notting Hill Gate Tube Station). This morning I noticed a big noise coming from far, I then went to the window and saw a big column of black smoke raising in the sky, then I heard plenty of sirens...I learned later what was the origin of this noise but I have heard in my apartment which is quite far from Paddington so I can imagine how big was the impact...
It is a pure horror and I pray for the victims.
My thoughts are with the injured people and their families, also the outstanding courage of the all the rescue services and hospitals. On a personal note my husband missed this train by deciding not to catch it because it was too packed! He caught the train behind... I have since spoken to him and he is very shaken by the narrow escape he has had and feels very upset and his thoughts are for the injured and their families. Our thoughts are with them at this time and then we can sort out who is responsible for yet another fatal train crash. Do we never learn from these devastating events .
We think it is a tragic accident the transport should be more reliable
Thank god that the rolling stock is relatively new and safe - it would have been many many times worse if this had happened on other parts of the network.
How many of these disasters will it take before the government drag our transport system into the 20thCentury.
As a commuter for the past 12 years this strikes a cord of horror.
Only last week there was an evacuation of Oxford Circus and from the time of the announcement to me actually surfacing above ground
it took me 20 minutes. If it has been a fire everyone would have burned alive. There were only
two escalators available to evacuate the whole of Oxford Circus at 6.00 on a Friday night.
Have any lessons at all been learnt from Kings Cross, Clapham Junction and Southall? It's a disgrace, all members of parliament
should have their cars taken away from them for 2 months and should be forced to use public transport for all of their journeys.
This train crash will highlight the fact that these peak time trains carry far too many people with large numbers of people having to stand in the aisleways as the train travels closer to London and picks up commuters. Should there not be some form of control on the numbers of passengers trains can carry and perhaps seatbelts should be considered. I believe trains to be a safe form of transport and that this accident may be the result of human error.
Appalling. Sincerest sympathies to the families of the dead and injured.
How are we expected to switch to public transport like trains when one's safety isn't guaranteed ?
This 'Peoples' Government has spent millions on the Millennium Dome - presumably as an advert for the U.K. What kind of message will this latest rail disaster send to the rest of the world?
It is unbelievable that this accident has happened. Have Great Western not learnt anything from Southall. My brother was on the scene moments after the crash and said that he will be haunted forever by a tourist trying to take photos of the bloodied injured people. My thoughts are will all the families who are worried sick out there.
We need the government to fast track this and other rail investigations in order to get results published quickly and recommendations enforced without the long delays
Appalled by the story - heartfelt sympathy for those involved. Will there be a request for blood donors?
I think it's a disgrace that the BBC feels it needs to bolster its page views by putting up such a Talking Point. If you don't print this, then that shows you are merely acting as censor again. What other reaction is there apart from one of great loss and sympathy for the victims and their friends/families? We do not know the circumstances of this accident yet, and until further evidence is revealed, it's disgraceful that people should come here and 'postulate'. The BBC is an honourable company, but such glorification and hunting for reaction is a disgrace.
John Prescott should resign; the UK transport system is a dangerous and a national disgrace.
The rail crash is truly shocking but what is perhaps more shocking is reading on BBC News Online that the installation of a safety system recommended after the Clapham crash was considered too expensive, based on a cost of £14m per life saved. This is a peculiar and perhaps heartless way to evaluate the cost. In reality it would be us - the passengers - who would pay for such a system, and I reckon that that most of us would be happy to pay few extra pounds each year for the assurance that they and their loved ones can travel safely. Surely safety must now be the number one priority for the rail companies.
Tragedies like this don't mean trains are generally unsafe. It happens so rarely. To blame it on privatisation is moronic.
Until commuters just plain refuse to use trains of dubious safety, which are continuously late and overcrowded, I can't see anything happening to change the way the railways are run. Railtrack continually shirks the issue and the rail companies are unwilling to invest because of the short term nature of their contracts. I dream of the day when commuters stay at home rather than put up with the indignities of London rail travel, forcing their companies to intercede rather than lose money. But what with us being English and being used to being pushed around and ripped off, it's just not going to happen.
Big Shame on politicians in this country. When it gets to the stage that you only close down facilities after the event (eg. escalator safety in tube stations) for you to realize these facilities aren't safe then what do you expect? With dated rail infrastructure of course you will lose lives, but you need a tragedy to pull your fingers out.
Some of the comments already on your site demonstrate the typical over-reaction to accidents like this. Tragic as it is, there are still more people killed on the roads every week than die in train crashes in a year! For contributors to say that they will use cars because rail travel is "dangerous" is frankly ridiculous. We shouldn't be complacent about safety on the railway, Railtrack and the operating companies have a lot of responsibility for the fact that the railways are not as safe as they could be, but the train is still THE SAFEST form of transport.
My friend works for Railtrack and says that the rail systems in England are accidents waiting to happen - it seems he was right. How many more crashes do we need to have before something is done.
Maybe the government should start investing some of the money they currently waste on ludicrous traffic calming schemes and the proliferation of unnecessary speed cameras into some decent public transport
They still won't invest in an automatic braking system because it costs so many millions of pound per life saved. With rail companies announcing massive profits and most commuters paying out hundreds of pounds per year to travel like cattle to work and back every day.
I regularly travel from Reading to London Paddington. By the time trains get to Reading they are already full. Most days I an many others are forced to stand. No wonder casualties are so high. These trains can reach 125mph.
In an age of anti-car where speed is a supposed killer and heavy fines face a motorist for travelling at 31mph. What about the train companies that then heard commuters in to over crowded carriages more akin to a third world country. The government and their failed transport policy must share the blame here. Tax people off the roads in to death-trap trains. John Prescott should resign immediately.
And you know what the final irony is, with these two trains out of action they'll be even more overcrowding!
Will we have to wait another 2 years for an enquiry? Likely.
This could have been my train (I was on the one behind it today) - they are always crowded, often with not even enough room to sit on the floor. How can people standing in between carriages stand a chance in a crash like this?
We are a technically advanced country and yet everyday we risk our lives just getting to work, and pay thousands for the privilege!!!
I don't think we can blame Prescott for this tragedy - after all, he's just as clueless as everyone else on how to solve the problems of public transport. Until anyone comes up with a more valid reason of improving things rather than throwing lots of money in ill-advised schemes, everyone will still end up in overcrowded trains, be stuck in long traffic jams and innocent people will still die ....
Instead of the railway workers striking its about time we had a "Commuter Strike" in favor of improved safety and accountability!
Now is not the time for recriminations and finger-pointing. We should all just take a moment to remember the dead, the injured and the rescue workers involved and pray for their safety and return to good health. We should also pray for the families of the dead.
And thank God for the dedication of the rescue workers who will free everyone from the wreckage and will not stop working until everyone is out. Then we must pray for the mental state of the rescue workers. How do you think they are going to feel tomorrow morning?
The time for recriminations will come and then we can bellow (not just voice) our concerns over the safety of public transport systems.
I can't believe that buses have capacity rules and yet a train, which is heavier and travels a lot faster seems to be a free for all.
It should be known from ticket sales how many people are going to be on the train.
This would help to minimise the hurt/dead in such incidents.
As a foreigner living in England I had the chance to compare the public transport system to my country of origin (Netherlands), and though we moan there about trains showing up late (usually just a few minutes) the system proves to be sufficient and is owned by one company who is still supervised by the government. The lines are safe, and we've had no major accidents in the last few years. The looking at the British system I can't get rid of the feeling that the British people are being abused by companies and government, and not only when it comes to public transport I'm afraid.
Today my thoughts are with the friends and family of those who died and were injured. Tomorrow, I will be angry that I could have been one of them.
A tragedy and a waste of life.
But I will still use the trains
because a similar carnage occurs on our roads throughout the year (about 900 killed or injured every day.)
I am utterly appalled that this has happened again. No doubt the drivers will be scapegoated again. The people who are responsible are the executives of the railway companies, especially Railtrack, which put profits before lives. The Tories foisted privatisation on us and Labour are intent on doing the same to the Tube. The despicable face of capitalism.
Again and again we are told that the Governments wants an integrated transport system and take us out of our cars. I traveled to work today on an overcrowded (normal), late (normal) train that runs at times that do not suit commuters (too infrequent). Now we have a situation where a train crash can occur on a stretch of line that has already claimed lives less than 3 years ago. Railtrack and the train companies say that they are investing huge sums of money? To what end? This still happens. Overcrowding undoubtedly added to the injuries and yet nobody will do anything to ease or help the situation in the future. What will not help the relatives is the sure knowledge that what led to these casualties was inaction. A terrible waste of life to be killed by apathy.
We see the Government taking little action over the Rail industry and now this happens. Pull your finger out Mr Blair, make them accountable!! And while you are at it make Prescott accountable too... He talks a good fight - but doesn't follow it through.
Another First Great Western accident. With a £1.5m fine and the Southall inquiry not even closed, you'd think that GWT would at last be putting passengers' safety before profits. If the APT was installed, this accident and tragic loss of life may never have happened. At Reading station, the last call this morning for this unfortunate train, passengers are jam-packed onto services every day. Something has to be done, now. God Bless those poor people and their families.
How ironic that at last week's Labour Party Conference, John Prescott promised to invest in the railways. Too little too late. How many more people must die before the politicians will do something to change this country's public transport system?
No doubt the cost of car ownership will continue to rise whilst poorly managed "public" transport kills our citizens?
Privitisation was a BAD idea. How come the other civilised countries of Europe can get their rail systems organised and we still have accidents like this?
What an end to the 20th century...
I bet RailTrack are mighty proud to have spent that £40m on new machines for the leaves. How about some of it on safety measures next time? Enough is Enough. Two bad accidents on the same stretch of track, it's time the Railways were bought back into public ownership so that the managers are responsible to someone else other than the shareholders.
Lessons are just not being learned. With poor levels of funding and cutbacks across the board, how are we to stop these tragedies happening. Is this going to get any better when politicians seem to think that tax cuts are the way forward. It is time to spend some of the so-called war chest not only on our public transport infrastructure, but on the homeless, child abuse victims and emergency services to mention just a few worthy causes.
I bet it doesn't affect the size of the manager's annual bonuses. A quick rehash of all the old empty promises about how "we're getting there" and the share price will recover enough to pro-vide the fat cat bosses with a new Jag each year. Sack the lot of them, renationalise, invest, and build a network like TGV or Thalys.
This is utterly appalling!!! What the hell does this country's train system think it is up to. It is worse than a third world country.
Train safety needs to be taken back into the public domain. The rate of reinvestment of funds by the deregulated market must be forced up as the degradation of track can not be covered; in light of recent accidents cannot be covered up by the purchase of shiny new rolling stock.
Disbelief. How could something like this happen during the enquiry into the Southall disaster. Do they not learn or care??
Surely now John Prescott's position as Transport Minister is untenable?
The loss of life and injury is of course very sad and newsworthy because of the localised nature of the accident. How many people were killed on the roads this morning during the rush hour and not reported?
It seems pretty obvious that despite the legal wranglings of blame after each and every crash, the fact that you have for-profit operators cutting costs to the absolute minimum to maximise profit, in competition with each other and with the infrastructure operators as "adversarial" partners, that these incidents are going to get more, not less frequent. My heart goes out to the families of those lost in yet another avoidable accident.
What a shameful waste of life.
Now is the time to put aside party politics and urgently invest in the rail infrastructure in this country.
Enough is enough - how many more have got to die before safety is brought up to an acceptable standard ?
My first reaction is one of shock and then worry as I commute to London Liverpool Street every day.
Have we still not learnt from previous tragedies?
This is a terrible, tragic event. Maybe now the government will realise that the people of London would rather have a safe, affordable, integrated, modern transport system for the millennium rather than a giant temporary Dome that benefits no-one in the long run. Some how I doubt they will.
When a good rail service is so important to the people of the UK, how is it that politicians can tinker with the country's travel policy in the same stop-go way that it used to with industry (culminating in the 3-day week). I would like to see a nationally agreed travel policy, thought through by the best brains on the subject, irrespective of political orientation. That way we really be able to call incidents such as these accidents, rather than the result of somebody trying to save or make money.
Privatisation of the railways was supposed to have brought
us lots of benefits. Punctuality is worse, and Railtrack seems completely
unable to do anything about rail
safety. Rail transport if far too important to be left in the
hand of the present lot. The Government should immediately assume
responsibility for it by whatever means.
I think that it is about time that the senior managers at the Railway companies begin to take responsibility for the almost regular railway crashes that keep occurring. Innocent people are dying and nothing seems to happen to stop it happening again. Criminal prosecutions should be brought against the people responsible AND their managers all the way up to the most senior level. Then maybe they would be more interested in people's safety than their profit margins!!!
The only way to ensure that the privatised rail companies do not put profit before passenger safety is to send out clear signals that this will not be tolerated.
If train companies are found to be guilty of jeopardising passenger safety they should have their operating licences revoked.
Perhaps making an example of one company would encourage shareholders to put pressure on their boards to comply with health and safety requirements.
London still pretends to be the main financial centre in Europe - meanwhile, its "poor" transportation network kills people every year...
You have to ask how many deaths and injuries are attributable not only to lax safety standards but also to gross overcrowding.
Doesn't the train company's comment on not knowing how many people were on board bring to the forefront the MAJOR HAZARD that is overcrowding.
How the hell do these train accidents still happen with all the anti-collision technologies that are now in place?
How often must this kind of thing happen before the UK wakes up to the fact that, however bad BR was, incidents like this were never the regular feature of life that they have become. A free market in rail transport is chaos and the chaos of so many more tragic deaths and injuries could be so easily avoided.
Typical John Redwood, trying to make some political capital when the dead aren't even cold yet!!!
Great Western jam pack trains, allowing passengers to stand
in corridors when no seats are available. This is madness, I take this train on a weekly basis and this is seems to be customary.
Safety should be a primary concern on Great Western!!!!!!
Yet more blood on the hands of the Privatisation Brigade.
When will Railtrack and the other Train companies learn that safety comes hand in hand with new equipment. The sooner they spend money on servicing and buying new equipment the sooner these incidents will stop happening.
Time for Re-nationalization of the railways
How many people have to die to make the government/RailTrack/Train companies get their act together.
Public Transport in this country is a sick joke which isn't funny.
PRESCOTT: Invest or see more innocent people die.
Was it head on or was it a bomb? Strange that it was reported a glancing head on blow. And the fire as well?
This is my train journey to work. This morning, I flew to Paris. It seems that the privatised rail operators have blood on their hands again.
How I ask can 2 trains be on the same line going in different directions?
This is the London network.
Still they don't believe in systems that prevent train collision and we are nearly in the 20th C.
Says it all about public transport, I for one will stick to using my car. No amount of Government attempts to get me to leave my car at home will work.
I'm horrified. Don't understand how this type of accident can happen. Makes me even less happy travelling on public transport. The Tube is just as bad.
More money must be spent on safety. There should be no need for incidents of this nature with the technology that is available.