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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 02:55 GMT 03:55 UK
Rail safety system costs 'soar'
Paddington crash
Thirty-one people died in the Paddington rail crash
The cost of fitting a new safety system on Britain's railways has risen to 6bn, it is reported.

A confidential report shows the state-of-the-art system would cost six times more than industry estimates following the Ladbroke Grove crash, according to the Independent newspaper.

It could cost twice as much as figures quoted last year for the automatic train protection system (ATP), says the report to be presented to Transport Secretary Stephen Byers.

Stephen Byers
Mr Byers will be told safety measures would save lives

The paper says the official report indicates that if the government does not invest in ATP, it would fail to meet its target of increasing passenger numbers by 50% over the next 10 years.

The ATP equipment governs the speed of trains and automatically stops them at red lights.

The report is part of a document compiled by Rail Safety, an independent subsidiary of Railtrack.

Long term

The report urges Mr Byers to calculate the cost benefit of ATP over 40 years.

It said that the cost of saving 80 lives over that period is relatively small compared with the 30bn of revenue received each year by train operators.

After the Ladbroke Grove crash, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said "money was no object" in implementing an ATP scheme.

Thirty-one people died in the 1999 Ladbroke Grove crash, when a Great Western express hit a Thames commuter train which had gone past a red signal.

Following this crash, and one at Southall two years earlier in which seven people died, Lord Cullen and Professor Uff launched the joint inquiry into train protection.

The industry's review says the government should agree a timetable in which installationon high speed lines begins in 2008, The Independent reports.

And the programme should be completed for much of the network by 2015.

See also:

04 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Rail safety deadline 'abandoned'
29 Mar 01 | UK
Rail safety deadline set
29 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Re-nationalise Railtrack say MPs
29 Mar 01 | UK
Q and A: Rail safety report
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