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Monday, 11 October, 1999, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Southall carriages on crash train
paddington crash
The scene of the Paddington crash
The express train in the Paddington rail disaster contained carriages damaged in the Southall crash two years ago, it has been confirmed.

Three cars of the Great Western train which crashed in 1997, killing seven people, were salvaged by the company.

They made up part of the 0603 BST Cheltenham express which collided with a commuter train in west London.

Great Western insisted that the coaches were all passed as safe by the Health and Safety Executive.

Company spokesman Knowles Mitchell said: "Some of the coaches were the same as those involved in the Southall crash.

"After Southall, some carriages with only light damage were deemed repairable, subjected to a full safety assessment and reintroduced into service.

"They were fully passed as safe by inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive."

He denied the practice was a cost-cutting measure. "There is no question of money being involved - it is nothing to do with saving anything," said Mr Mitchell.

'Danger'

The RMT union condemned the practice of "cannibalising" damaged carriages.

Its general secretary, Jimmy Knapp, said: "It's something that we've always been totally opposed to because it's done to maximise the old equipment instead of bringing in the new.

"Great Western obviously felt they could do this to keep the rolling stock up to number.

"There is a danger that the equipment isn't as tough or as strong as it would have been earlier.

"We had an example of that in the Cannon Street accident eight or nine years ago when most of the injuries occurred in the middle of the train which involved a piece of rolling stock which had been cannibalised.

"That's the element that does give us deep cause for concern."

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