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Wednesday, 31 May, 2000, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Paddington driver 'had no route map'
Paddington crash
Inquiry hears that signallers 'acted within regulations'
New train driver Michael Hodder had to rely on handwritten plans of his route because rail bosses did not provide proper maps, the Paddington crash inquiry has been told.

The 31-year-old Thames Trains driver was "thrown in at the deep end" but was a "very good driver... and competent at his job" said his training instructor Raymond Adams.

Mr Adams said on Wednesday the company did not provide its drivers with proper route plans and they relied on handwritten sketch plans they passed amongst themselves.

It is very unusual that a train travels that distance

Heinz Winters

Thirty-one people, including both drivers, died and hundreds were injured when the trains collided at Ladbroke Grove on 5 October last year.

Mr Adams listed a number of concerns over the Thames Trains driver training programme.

He himself had not trained anyone for two to three years before teaching Mr Hodder in May 1999, five months before the crash.

He also said that there was no Signal Passed at Danger (SPAD) awareness course, and that he was never told signal 109, which the Thames train overshot in the crash, had previously had eight SPADs.

Mr Adams added that he had been given no guidance on how to fill in the training forms for his pupil.

Catalogue of failings

"They came in a brown envelope with no instructions on how to use them," he said.

He said he had taught Mr Hodder to watch for sunlight making signals hard to read and told him to stop well short of them.

On Tuesday signalman David Allen said that he had waited up to 25 seconds before reacting when the Thames turbo service passed signal 109 and moved into the path of the First Great Western express.

The hearing was told that it was not unusual to leave a delay before stopping trains which passed red lights.

David Allen
Signaller David Allen waited up to 25 seconds before acting
Heinz Winters, head of Railtrack's signal control centre in Slough, told the inquiry that trains passing signals at danger usually pulled up within seconds.

Mr Winters, who was on duty the day of the crash, said: "It is very unusual that a train travels that distance."

He added that Mr Allen had acted within safety rules and regulations and said he had "no concerns" about the performance of his signal room staff.

Robert Owen QC, counsel for the inquiry, asked him: "Do you mean that because the train usually stops in a short distance of the signal it was appropriate to wait until it travelled into the next track circuit?"

He replied: "Yes."

Mr Winters said that in nine out of 10 SPADs the train pulled up in time.

This provoked cries of "rubbish" from victims' relatives, two of whom had pictures of their loved ones on display at the back of the hearing.

The inquiry was adjourned to Thursday.

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