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Tuesday, October 5, 1999 Published at 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK

UK Politics

Blair promises 'fullest' crash inquiry

The two trains collided during rush hour

The government has promised a public inquiry into the causes of the fatal rail crash near London's Paddington station.

London Train Crash
Prime Minister Tony Blair has expressed his condolences to the families and friends of those people who were killed and injured in the collision near the site of the 1997 Southall rail crash.

Lord MacDonald, Transport Minister: 'Too early to speculate on the causes'
In a statement, Mr Blair promised the latest accident would be thoroughly investigated.

"I am absolutely appalled by what is a truly dreadful tragedy," he said.

[ image: The deputy prime minister and transport minister Lord MacDonald visited the crash scene]
The deputy prime minister and transport minister Lord MacDonald visited the crash scene
"There will have to be the fullest investigation."

The prime minister added: "All our thoughts are with those who have died and been injured and their families and friends."

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has visited the crash scene and has paid tribute to the emergency services .

John Prescott: 'There will be a public inquiry'
He added: "I would like assure people of course that the investigations have begun both by the police authorities and the Health and Safety Executive

"There will be a public inquiry. People would expect that and that will happen."

Mr Prescott refused to speculate on the causes of the crash.

'Government has done nothing'

[ image: John Redwood: Labour has done nothing to improve the line]
John Redwood: Labour has done nothing to improve the line
However, shadow transport spokesman John Redwood accused the government of doing nothing to improve the stretch of line since the Southall disaster, in which seven people died when two trains collided.

Speaking from the Tory Party conference in Blackpool, he said: "We do need a full inquiry, we need to be satisfied about what went wrong.

"We need to know why it is that the government has done nothing following the last disaster on this stretch of track and why it is we've had yet another disaster in, more or less, the same place.

Shadow transport spokesman John Redwood: 'I am very shocked by this'
"We need a proper inquiry, we need to know what went wrong and we need some answers so that travellers are reassured in the future."

Conservative leader William Hague said the crash had "cast a pall" over events at the conference.

He paid tribute to the emergency services saying they faced a "nightmarish task."

Call for joint inquiry

After the Southall rail crash Great Western Trains was fined a record £1.5m when it was found guilty of a "dereliction of duty".

The accident is also the subject of an ongoing public inquiry.

Lawyers acting for the victims of the Southall crash have now called for the collision at Paddington to be immediately incorporated into that inquiry.

Shaun Twomey of Collins Solicitors in Watford, said: "In order to ensure that the inherent deficiencies in co-ordination of safety management are examined it is necessary not to look at incidents in isolation but together."

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