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Monday, 17 April, 2000, 19:41 GMT 20:41 UK
Rail chiefs 'failed to learn lessons'
Paddington rail crash
The Paddington crash: 31 people were killed
The rail industry failed to learn from instances of trains passing red signals in the months leading up to the Paddington rail crash which killed 31 people, a report reveals.

The Health and Safety Executive report is highly critical of both rail network operator Railtrack and its own Railway Inspectorate.

It highlights how a recommendation about a signalling problem in a crash at Watford Junction in 1996 in which one person died was not implemented.
HSE criticisms
The quality of data supplied by Railtrack about signals passed at danger was "poor"
No central system for collating intelligence on underlying causes of SPADs
Intelligence on SPADs "limited at all levels"
Failure to implement recommendation after 1996 Watford Junction crash
No follow-up to the serious SPAD at signal 109 in February 1998 when two trains stopped 150 yards from each other
Railtrack had "potential to create tension between commercial and safety considerations"

The HSE announced plans to improve its inspectorate to make sure all future signalling problems are investigated thoroughly.

A signal passed at danger (SPAD) is believed to be the main cause of the October 1999 accident just outside Paddington station.

It happened when a Thames train passed through a red light at signal 109 near Paddington.

The report says the Railway Inspectorate considered the quality of data supplied by Railtrack about signals passed at danger (SPADs) was "poor".

It also criticises the Inspectorate for not having a central system for collating intelligence on underlying causes of SPADs and says intelligence on SPADs had been "limited at all levels".

It highlights an incident in February 1998 when a Heathrow Express train and a Great Western train stopped just 150 yards from each other after a train passed through signal 109 - the same signal in the Paddington disaster.

It says there was no real follow-up to that incident.

Critical

The report also highlights Railtrack's role in probing safety cases and as a service provider.

It also has "a complex relationship with train and station operating companies" which, it says, had "the potential to create tension between commercial and safety considerations".

As a result of the report, the HSE announced that from 1 May, the Railway Inspectorate will become a division within its field operations directorate.
Southall
Seven people died in the Southall crash

It will be strengthened by the addition of inspectors with safety experience in other areas within the executive.

The Railway Inspectorate also wants to increase its numbers by 10%.

"We have been as critical of ourselves as others within the industry," said David Eves, deputy director-general of the HSE.

Bill Callaghan, chairman of the Health and Safety Commission, said the report was strong and hard-hitting.

"I know the HSE is eager to be as open as possible and to help Lord Cullen's inquiry (into Paddington) in every way it can," he said.

Mr Callaghan said he had met the train operating companies on Monday to find out how they were implementing the recommendations of Professor John Uff's official report into the September 1997 Southall train crash in which seven people died.

He said that a number of measures were already in hand and that he would be monitoring the situation carefully.


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