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The BBC's Simon Montague
"Only automatic train protection would have prevented the Southall crash"
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Monday, 18 September, 2000, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
Crash survivors demand safer trains
Paddington rail crash
31 people died in the Paddington rail crash
Survivors of the Paddington and Southall rail crashes have urged the government to adopt the best protection safety system available to prevent further disasters.

They said the government should agree to install the Advanced Train Protection system (ATP) rather than the cheaper alternative, the Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS).

The campaigners also called for changes to the law on corporate manslaughter to make it easier to prosecute companies' directors for fatal disasters.

They were speaking ahead of an inquiry at Central Hall, Westminster, which has been ordered to consider the best way to improve train safety.

When you hand over your money at that ticket office you also hand over your life

Carole Bell

The relatives of victims, along with survivors of the two crashes, dismissed government plans to install TPWS, saying it was not good enough.

Railtrack and the government have invested 140m in the system.

Railtrack says it will prevent 70% of accidents and will be fully operational by 2003.

But rail safety campaigners say the system only works when trains are travelling at less than 70mph.

They want the more expensive ATP system introduced.

Carole Bell, a victim of the Southall rail crash, said financial loss should never be put before the loss of peoples' lives.

"We used to think that travelling by train was safe," she said.

"Now we know when you hand over your money at that ticket office you also hand over your life," she said.

Southall train crash
Seven people died in the Southall crash
"We need ATP as nothing else will give protection to trains travelling at high speeds," Mrs Bell said.

"Better financial loss than the loss of a loved one."

Robin Kellow, father of a victim of the Paddington crash, said it was up to the public to stop the government from adopting TPWS.

"If we don't, it will mean for the next decade we will have a second-class rail safety system."

He urged people to sign a petition that will be delivered to the prime minister to put pressure on the government to adopt the ATP system.

Marion Carmichael, whose daughter Jenny died in the Paddington crash, said the only way to make sure the ATP system was adopted was to make company directors responsible for their actions.

It will mean for the next decade we will have a second-class rail safety system

Robin Kellow
"If we change the law they will fit a failsafe system not out of any public duty, of any conscience, but out of fear of going to prison."

The inquiry at Central Hall, Westminster, has been ordered to consider three specific topics on railway safety - the future application of ATPs, train protection and warning systems, and prevention measures for signals passed at danger (SPADs).

It will begin with a short statement from the chairmen before opening submissions are heard by concerned parties, including Railtrack and the Association of Train Operating Companies.

Lord Cullen and Professor John Uff will hear the first evidence on Tuesday.

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