Wednesday, October 20, 1999 Published at 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
I'm sorry - Railtrack boss
Signal 109 will not be in use when Paddington reopens
A Railtrack boss has apologised after causing a storm of protest over a call for an end to rail safety "hysteria".
They came as Paddington station prepares to reopen two weeks after the crash that killed at least 30 people.
Mr Middleton said he had no wish to offend the families and friends of the Paddington crash victims.
"I am a railwayman not a broadcaster, and, with hindsight, I accept that the unqualified use of the word 'hysteria' was wrong.
The row blew up when Mr Middleton told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the "hysteria around rail safety" should calm down.
"Rail is a safe mode of transport, and our job now is to restore public confidence."
But solicitor Karen Darbyshire, of Watford law firm Collins, said: "It has now taken the loss of 30 lives for the issue to finally be taken seriously.
"For Railtrack to talk about hysteria after Paddington is going to leave some victims feeling deeply insulted."
Maureen Kavanagh, head of the newly founded Safety on Trains Action Group, said Mr Middleton had ridden roughshod over the feelings of the bereaved.
The campaigner, who lost her son Peter in the 1997 Southall crash, said: "It is an absolutely outrageous thing to say - families are burying their dead this week and yet this man has the gall to stand up and talk about hysteria."
The row over Mr Middleton's comments came as the vice-president of the environmental task group Transport 2000, Lord Faulkner, said public confidence had vanished from the rail industry.
Appearing before MPs on the House of Commons Transport Committee, he said: "Literature from the rail companies is much more to do with the promotion of company share prices than with safety.
Thirty people died and 245 were injured on 5 October when a Thames commuter train passed a red signal near Paddington station and collided with a crowded Great Western express.
Paddington station will open at 2359 BST with services resuming early on Thursday, although peak services will be reduced.
The HSE agreed to reopen the station, despite the seven-page report, compiled for train drivers' union Aslef.
It said the 19 signals should be withdrawn from service and another eight should be simplified.
There will also be revised speed limits as low as 40mph between Paddington and Ladbroke Grove, the scene of the crash.