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Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 16:05 GMT
Paddington crash signals safer network

Paddington The Paddington crash claimed the lives of 31 people

The number of rail signals passed at danger (SPAD) has fallen significantly in the wake of the Paddington rail disaster, the Health and Safety Executive says.

In December 1999 the number of registered SPADs was 22 - the lowest monthly total since 1990 - according to the executive's figures.

London Train Crash
The December statistics follow the deaths of 31 people in the Paddington crash in which a commuter service passed a signal at red and collided with a London-bound express on 5 October last year.

And they come only days after Railtrack lost a legal battle with the HSE over the signal at the centre of the Paddington inquiry.

But, with three of last month's SPADs accounted for by trains running through red lights by at least 300 yards, the HSE has criticised rail industry investigators for not establishing the causes of failure.

Stringent checks

Calling for more stringent checks, the report said: "Some of the industry's investigations have been completed thoroughly, while in other cases the investigation does not appear to have identified the underlying cause of the SPAD incident.

"The Railway Inspectorate will continue to monitor the standard of the investigations, but expects to see an improvement over the coming months."

The December 1999 total of 22 marks a fall from 35 in December 1998 and 36 during the same month in 1997.

Last month's figure also compared favourably with the November total of 55 and 71 in October 1999, which included the Paddington crash.

Danger blacklist

Of the signals passed during December 1999, 16 had a history of SPADs ands three had been violated by enough drivers to warrant inclusion on a SPADs blacklist

The number of SPADs had been falling steadily during the 1990s until it rose slightly in 1998-99

In the period April-December 1999 there were 479 SPADs, compared with 520 in April-December 1998.

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See also:
25 Jan 00 |  UK
Railtrack loses Paddington signal case
09 Oct 99 |  UK
Rail system failure blamed for crash
10 Oct 99 |  UK
Railtrack to be stripped of safety role

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