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Last Updated: Friday, 30 March 2007, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Paddington crash fine reaction
The Paddington rail crash
Network Rail has been fined 4m for the Paddington rail crash
Network Rail has been fined 4m and must pay 225,000 in costs as a result of the breaches in health and safety which resulted in the 1999 Paddington rail disaster.

The crash, which killed 31 people, occurred when a First Great Western train hit a Thames Trains service at Ladbroke Grove in west London, near Paddington Station.

Rail bosses, union leaders and family members of the victims have given their reaction to the ruling handed down at Blackfriars Crown Court.

NETWORK RAIL CHAIRMAN IAN MCALLISTER

Network Rail is sorry for the failings of Railtrack some seven years ago that contributed to the tragedy at Ladbroke Grove. Network Rail accepts the fine imposed by the court.

The events of Ladbroke Grove will always be remembered and our thoughts must remain with the families and friends of the 31 people who lost their lives on that tragic day and those that were injured.

The railways have seen huge change since 1999. Network Rail took over from Railtrack in 2002 and completed the installation of an automatic train braking system that would have prevented the Ladbroke Grove tragedy.

This system, called the Train Protection Warning System (TPWS), will automatically apply a train's brakes if it passes a signal at red or approaches one too quickly.

Since the implementation of TPWS and TPWS Plus, the risk of accidents caused by trains passing red signals has been reduced by 93% compared to 2001.

MAUREEN KAVANAGH, CHAIRMAN OF SAFE TRAINS ACTION GROUP

A fine is not enough and is not justice. People can kill 31 people and just pay a fine.

No financial penalty can be adequate. It's taxpayers' money anyway. The money will just be shuffled around from one Government department to another.

As the law stands, Railtrack could not be punished in the way it should have been. People should have been held responsible.

The apology for the crash came seven years too late. Many years have passed but to those bereaved by the crash it still seems like yesterday.

LOUISE CHRISTIAN, LAWYER FOR SEVERAL PADDINGTON VICTIMS

This sentence does not deliver any accountability at all as Network Rail is a not-for-dividend company financed by the taxpayer.

Fining a company is not the way to deliver corporate accountability.

Even new corporate laws do not go far enough. Directors do not necessarily have to go to prison. They could be disqualified from holding office.

KEITH NORMAN, GENERAL SECRETARY OF DRIVERS' UNION ASLEF

If the managers are not fined personally, it means the fines will be paid by the public.

The fine imposed will come out of company funds and be paid to the government - which effectively owns the company.

So the only people to suffer from the fine will be the travelling public because the fine will mean that the company has less to spend on the rail infrastructure of this country.

This would be a terrible injustice to passengers who would end up having to pay for being killed, maimed and injured.

Network Rail is funded by the taxpayer. It then collects access charges from operating companies and says that any profits "go straight back into improving the railway".

That's not quite true. A considerable amount goes to paying salaries.

RAIL MARITIME AND TRANSPORT UNION GENERAL SECRETARY BOB CROW

Privatisation, fragmentation, the absence of train protection and the lack of corporate accountability were at the heart of the tragedy, and each problem remains to be dealt with.

It is only right that the survivors and the families of those killed have heard the catalogue of failings that led to the disaster aired in court, but it was the wrong people in front of the judge.

The Railtrack executives whose negligence led to the crash walked quietly away a long time ago.

Until we have an effective corporate manslaughter law that puts bosses whose negligence leads to unnecessary death and injury in the dock and facing the prospect of prison, justice will not be done, no matter how big the fines.




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