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Wednesday, 21 June, 2000, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Railtrack 'ignored safety recommendations'
Paddington rail crash
Paddington: Thirty-one people were killed
Railtrack ignored key recommendations arising from an earlier train collision in west London, the Paddington rail crash inquiry has heard.

Thirty-one people were killed last October when a Thames train went through a red light and collided with a London-bound Great Western train at Ladbroke Grove, west London.

But a previous inquiry into the 1995 collision between a Great Western high-speed train and an empty Thames Trains turbo at Royal Oak, near Paddington, called for a feasibility study into the misreading of signals on the track.

Railtrack managers judged that the recommendations had no "merit" and was therefore not followed up.

Lord Cullen
Lord Cullen is heading the inquiry
Geoffrey Tribe, Railtrack's formal inquiries process manager, told the inquiry the company's headquarters did not take up the suggestions because its Great Western zone did not produce a remit for them.

"If the recommendation was that HQ should consider a remit that they (Great Western zone) produce and for some reason they have been unable to produce that remit, there's not a great deal to be done."

Mr Tribe said the zone had been asked to produce the remit, but that "we didn't do anything more about it".

The inquiry was told there was no overall responsibility at Railtrack to ensure that recommendations from zones were carried out.

Previous revelations

At an earlier hearing Railtrack was accused of ignoring signal changes because of "financial implications."

The inquiry heard that between July 1993 and the Paddington crash on October 5, 1999 there had been eight cases of signals passed at danger (SPADs) at signal 109 - the signal which the Thames train went through at danger seconds before the crash.

Pam Warren
Pam Warren, 33, who was badly burnt in the crash

After one of these incidents in July 1998, Railtrack's signalling development engineer for the Great Western zone wrote to suggest certain lines of track should be made passable only in one direction.

But Railtrack's operational planning manager dismissed the proposals as unworkable.

The Senior Scottish judge Lord Cullen, who is chairing the inquiry, has called for "effective recommendations" for the future safety of the UK's rail travellers.

"We owe it to all those who have suffered in any way as a result of this disaster to make sure that its lessons are fully learned." he said.

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