Monday, October 11, 1999 Published at 20:11 GMT 21:11 UK
Rail safety plans unveiled
Work continues at the Paddington crash site
The government has given more details of its emergency measures to improve rail safety after the Paddington crash.
At the same time rail regulator Tom Winsor announced that he is seeking advice on whether the rail companies involved in the crash were in breach of their licence obligations.
Railtrack has promised its full co-operation to the government to improve rail safety.
The latest developments came as the Queen visited the site of the crash in west London to see the devastation for herself.
'Ensuring public confidence'
These concerns include:
However, Lord Macdonald stressed it did not say the company's role had caused "major failures".
But he said it was right that Railtrack should lose its regulatory role so he could "ensure public confidence there is no conflict between safety standards and commercial interest".
In a statement in the Lords, he said: "This is something that Railtrack has accepted and indeed welcomed."
The government was prepared to introduce new legislation to set up a new safety regime if required, he added.
The minister also revealed that the Railway Inspectorate had issued enforcement notices banning the use of Signal 109 until Railtrack had taken action to prevent it being passed at danger, as it was in the Paddington crash.
By the same date it will also have to publish plans to improve the safety of all other signals which have recently been passed at danger.
Train operators have also been ordered to brief drivers on the location of all suspect signals and how to deal with them.
Lord Macdonald said Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had also asked the HSC to give him a weekly report on incidents when trains went through danger signals.
"He also requested a report by the end of this week on action undertaken by Railtrack to improve safety on the approach to Paddington station," he said.
The latter will consider the relative merits of the rival rail safety systems.
The train drivers' union Aslef has threatened strike action if rail companies refuse to install the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system, which stops trains if they go pass a signal which is at danger.
ATP was recommended by the report on the Clapham crash. But the government instead ordered that the cheaper Train Protection Warning System (TPWS) should be installed across the network by 2004.
Lord Macdonald said that in their interim report on the Paddington crash, rail inspectors concluded that last week's collision would not have happened if the Thames train had been fitted with TPWS.