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Tuesday, October 19, 1999 Published at 20:09 GMT 21:09 UK


Paddington to reopen

The last of the crash debris was cleared away last week

Paddington Station will reopen late on Wednesday night, more than two weeks after the horrific rail crash which left 30 people dead, Railtrack has announced.

London Train Crash
The station will reopen at 2359 BST, with services resuming early on Thursday morning.

Peak hour services will be slightly reduced as the stretch of track near signal 109 - passed at red by one of the trains involved in the crash - will remain out of use.

Full off-peak train services will run, although speeds will be reduced between Paddington and Ladbroke Grove.

Railtrack chief executive Gerald Corbett said the announcement was "a vital step forward" in helping to restore public faith in the railways.

The announcement came after Health and Safety Executive (HSE) officials accepted Railtrack's safety proposals following a meeting with officials and independent safety expert Roy Bell on Tuesday afternoon.

[ image: Thirty died in Paddington crash]
Thirty died in Paddington crash
Railtrack said there would be revised speed limits as low as 40mph between Paddington and Ladbroke Grove.

Mr Corbett said: "This news is a vital step forward in helping to restore public faith in the railways and demonstrates that safety remains our top priority.

"We have always been acutely aware of the severe disruption the closure has had on passengers and the train operating companies and we have worked closely with the companies to ensure services are reinstated as soon as possible."

Mr Corbett paid tribute to Railtrack staff, who had worked around the clock to ensure that services could be resumed.

Supplements to rail timetables of services in and out of Paddington will be published in the next few days.

Experts satisfied with proposals

The stretch of track near the station has been closed since the Ladbroke Grove crash on 5 October.

Thirty people are known to have died in the crash and 245 were injured when a Thames commuter train passed a red signal, crashing into a crowded Great Western express train at the height of the rush hour.

The HSE said it was satisfied with proposals put forward by Railtrack.

Signal 109, which was passed at red by the Thames train, has been taken out of use, while other signalling arrangements and traffic patterns have been adjusted.

Jimmy Knapp: The latest crash underlines the need for a train protection system
The HSE meeting followed a report from Mr Bell, the former director of signal testing for British Rail and Railtrack, who said 19 signals in the Paddington area were dangerously obscured.

In the seven-page report, compiled for train drivers' union Aslef, Mr Bell said eight signals on the up line towards Paddington and 11 on the down line should be withdrawn from service, and another eight signals simplified.

Jimmy Knapp, General Secretary of the RMT union, said Mr Bell was highly experienced and his findings had to be taken seriously.

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