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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 October 2007, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Laminated glass 'can save lives'
The wreckage of the Ufton Nervet rail crash
Five passengers died when the train derailed at Ufton Nervet
Laminated glass windows in trains may have prevented 12 deaths at seven of the UK's recent rail crashes, an industry expert told an inquest.

Seven people were killed in the crash near Ufton Nervet, Berkshire in 2004, after a high-speed train hit chef Brian Drysdale's car on a level-crossing.

Some were thrown through the windows of carriages, the inquest at Slough heard.

Rail expert Peter Randall told the hearing treated glass could have saved lives in that crash and elsewhere.

Speaking on behalf of Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate, Mr Randall said research into rail safety had found that toughened laminated glass would reduce the instances of people being hurled to their deaths through windows.

Twenty per cent could have been saved
Peter Randall

Apart from Ufton Nervet, he also referred to Potters Bar in 2002, where seven people were killed; Ladbroke Grove in 1999, where 31 died; Southall in 1997, which claimed the lives of six; the Watford rail crash in 1996 which led to one death; Selby in 2001, which killed 10, and the four people who lost their lives in the Hatfield accident in 2000.

Mr Randall said: "Of the 60 [the precise figure is 66] people who died in those seven accidents, 12 of them occurred through ejection.

"Twenty per cent could have been saved," he said.

Laminated windows began being fitted on trains in Britain in 1993, however at the time of the Ufton Nervet crash on 6 November 2004 high speed trains (HSTs), like the First Great Western Paddington-to-Plymouth train which was involved, were not able to have them installed, the inquest heard.

Greater risk of injury

HSTs began being fitted with laminated windows in 2005, although about a thousand HSTs in Britain have yet to have them installed, Mr Randall told the inquest.

Seatbelts were also examined as a possible safety measure following the Ufton Nervet tragedy but experts concluded that passengers would be at greater risk of injury or death with them than without them, Mr Randall added.

The inquest had previously heard that Mr Drysdale, 48, was awaiting the results of an HIV test when the crash happened.

Results later revealed he did not have the disease.

Barry Strevens, 55, from Wells, Somerset, Charlie Matthews, 72, of Warminster, Wiltshire, Anjanette Rossi, 38, from Speen, Berkshire, her daughter Louella Main, nine, and train driver Stanley Martin, 54, of Torquay, Devon, were also killed in the crash.

Leslie Matthews, 72, from Warminster, Wiltshire, died in hospital the next day.

The inquest was adjourned until Friday.

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