Paddington Survivors Group News

Monday 27th September, 2004 Events planned for the 5th Anniversary of the crash

The Paddington Survivors Group will be marking the anniversary at the site. We will be by the Memorial Stone at 08:10, the time of the crash 5 years ago. This anniversary is doubly poignant, being the 5th, but also being the first one that falls on a Tuesday - the same day that the crash happened.

Members of the group will be available for a brief comment after the marking of the anniversary and will give a press conference later in the morning. Details to be announced.

Thursday 8th April, 2004 Implementation of Digital Radio communication system delayed. BBC News Online

Network Rail have announced that implementation of the GSM-Radio system will be delayed by five years.

Our response to this:

"We are surprised and disappointed at this news. Lord Cullen’s view was that there should be a national system of radio communication between trains and signallers. The Rail Industry and the government both agreed that Lord Cullen’s recommendations should be implemented as soon as is possible.

On Monday Thames Trains was fined a record £2 million for breaches of Health and Safety law, because risks were known but not acted on.

Given that serious rail crashes have occurred on average every two years the probability is that there will be four or five major crashes before this communication system is in place. Surely that risk is enough to make Network Rail reconsider this ‘money before safety’ decision."

Wednesday 7th April, 2004 Thames Trains sentencing.

Thames Trains were fined £2million for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The Paddington Survivors Group said:

On Monday 5th April, exactly 4 and a half years after the Paddington crash, Thames Trains were fined £2 million after admitting guilty over two breaches of the Health and Safety Act (1974).

Members of the PSG attended the Old Bailey for the sentencing. Harrowing details of the crash were read out by the Counsel for the HSE, highlighting the devastation and distress caused by the crash.

We recognise that the fine is the largest ever relating to Health and Safety Law, nevertheless £2 million is not a large sum of money for a company of this size.  The holding company of Thames Trains, Go-Ahead, will be paying the fine. In the first six months of the current financial year Go-Ahead made profits of £49 million. The fine is therefore only 4% of their 6 month profit figure. The Judge in the case, Mr Justice Bell, said that he wanted the fine to reflect the devastation of the crash, we are not convinced that the figure of £2million does, as 31 people were killed and over 400 injured.

The money from the fine will go to the treasury. Whilst this ensures impartiality when the fine is imposed, we feel that there is a case for this money to go to a cause related to the crash, such as a burns charity.

Thames Trains pleaded guilty to the charges ‘at the earliest opportunity’ and as a result of this their fine was reduced by one third. The evidence against Thames Trains was overwhelming and thoroughly damning. They really had no choice but to plead guilty and  we find it hard to accept that they have a £1million reduction in the fine for this.

However we are satisfied that at last representatives of one of the companies responsible for the crash have appeared in court.

Tuesday 16th March, 2004 Thames Trains sentencing.

We understand that the sentencing of Thames Trains has been delayed until the 5th and 6th of April, because of court availability.

The PSG intends to be at the hearing and to comment on the sentence passed on Thames Trains. Please if you wish to contact us regarding this.

Saturday 14th February, 2004 Two survivors, who met after the crash, marry today

Today Janet Vaughan and Tony Jasper marry at the Register Office in Reading. They met when attending Lord Cullen's enquiry into the crash.

Janet and Tony have been dedicated members of the PSG and we wish them a very happy life together.

BBC News Article

Wednesday 10th December, 2003 Thames Trains plead guilty to breaches of Health and Safety Law BBC News Online

The news item states that today "Thames Trains has pleaded guilty to breaches of health and safety law over the Paddington crash in which 31 died. It admitted two charges at London's Bow Street Magistrates' Court - one of breaching employee safety and the other relating to passenger safety.

The case has been sent to the Old Bailey for sentencing.

The prosecution is being brought by the Health and Safety Executive under two sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The court has the power to issue an unlimited fine."

The Paddington Survivors Group said:

"We welcome the admittance of guilt by Thames Trains to these charges.

The health and safety of all passengers and staff on the two trains was seriously compromised by the company's failure to take safety seriously. This is another step in the process of placing safety high on the agendas of all companies involved in Britain's railways, and will once again remind all directors and employees of transport companies the message that if you sacrifice safety, you sacrifice lives.

We urge the entire industry to continue to strive for a safe railway system.

Our thoughts today are with everyone who was involved in this terrible tragedy."

Friday 28th November, 2003 BBC News reports that the HSE has been accused of being 'dysfunctional'.

The news item states "A former boss at the Health and Safety Executive has said the body is "grossly inefficient" and "dysfunctional".

Alan Osborne, who quit as director of rail safety at the agency last month, said internal politics and turf wars had hampered him in his job. In his resignation letter, leaked to the Economist magazine, he also said the HSE tended to come up with inappropriate and costly ideas for safety problems. He concluded that the body should lose its responsibility for railway safety.

Mr. Osborne said he had felt unable to implement crucial recommendations from the Cullen report on railway safety because of such turf wars and in-fighting."

Our response to this:

"We obviously are not aware of the detail of Mr. Osborne's accusations. However we are very concerned that doubt has been thrown on the competence of the HSE in ensuring Rail Safety. The government has committed to ensuring the implementing of the recommendations from Lord Cullen's report. These recommendations were designed to overcome the 'lamentable failures' and 'institutional paralysis' he found in rail safety - weaknesses that led directly to the crash at Ladbroke Grove.

If Mr. Osborne's accusations are well-founded then we demand that action be taken immediately to address the issues he has raised. 31 lives were lost and hundreds more shattered because of management incompetence. It would be tragic if further incompetence hampered the implementation of Lord Cullen's recommendations"

Thursday 23rd October, 2003 It is announced that Network Rail intend to bring all maintenance work in-house. BBC News Online

After increasing concern about the safety implications of the way that the railways are maintained, Network Rail is bringing maintenance in-house.

The Paddington Survivors Group welcomes this development, which is clearly designed to bring a more coherent system of safety management to Britain's rail network.

Terrible crashes have happened on Britain's railways over the last seven years because the companies involved did not take safety seriously enough. There was a greater significance put on finance and profit than the safety and security of the industry's customers.

From the Watford Crash until now over 1,000 people have been involved in rail crashes, three quarters of these passengers and staff were injured and 50 killed. This level of carnage inflicted on customers would not be accepted by any other industry.

This latest development will bring some comfort to all of those who have suffered as a result of incompetent management by rail companies.

Part 2 of the Cullen Report in to the Ladbroke Grove crash looked at safety systems in Britain's railways (see The Ladbroke Grove Rail Inquiry - Part 2 report [1.3mb]pdf ).

In his report Lord Cullen recommended that:

  • "Steps should be put in place to ensure that contractors and sub-contractors are selected by a process which gives due regard to their state of training."
  • "Steps should be taken to ensure that the quality of work carried out by contractors and sub-contractors entirely meets the required standards, and that any deficiencies are addressed in a timely manner."
  • "The taking by Railtrack of a direct and active role in the close day to day management of safety-critical work is endorsed."
  • "Employers of contractors and sub-contractors should ensure that they work to exactly the same safety standards as those who are directly employed."
  • and the report also made the comment: "I support the argument for the reduction of the number of contractors. It is clear that the industry has been unable properly to control and manage the work of its contractors, and by having a smaller population of contractors, each with a larger area of responsibility, control could and should be improved."

Friday 17th October, 2003 Transport Minister Kim Howells refers to Rail Crashes as 'Relatively minor' BBC News Online

In insensitively timed comments, Transport Minister, Dr. Kim Howells, again compares road death with rail deaths, and suggests that public perception of rail safety is skewed.

The Paddington Survivors Group has issued a response to Dr. Howell's provocative, ill timed and ill conceived comments

PSG Press Release 17/10/2003

Sunday 5th October, 2003 Today marks four years since the crash.

There are no formal events being held marking this anniversary.

The events of four years ago will be marked individually by all of those involved.

The PSG would like to thank everyone for their interest and commitment since the crash and our thoughts are with everyone who was involved or touched by it.

Recent events have brought our crash back into the public spotlight. We stand beside everyone who has not yet settled their claims, the process can be long and arduous, and exposes already damaged people to a painful and tiring course of action.

We also look forward to the impending HSE prosecution of Thames Trains. This is not something that we have campaigned for, however the crash would not have occurred if safety had been given sufficient prominence. A successful prosecution will go some way towards assuaging the pain suffered by very many people.

Wednesday 1st October, 2003 The HSE announces that it intends to prosecute Thames Trains Ltd.

In a letter to the bereaved and survivors, the HSE said:

"the HSE intends to begin its prosecution of Thames Trains Ltd. for breaches of sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The HSE intends to lay informations alleging these offences within the next few days, with the first court hearing at the City of London Magistrates’ Court on a date to be fixed. The City of London Magistrates’ Court is located at The Justice Rooms, 1 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4N 4XY.

As you will be aware, the British Transport Police (BTP) began a further investigation into the case, known as ‘Operation Resolve’. That investigation, which is continuing, has focused on both Railtrack and some individuals employed by it at the time of the collision. It was possible that during the course of the BTP investigation evidence might have come to light that was relevant to Thames Trains. However the BTP and the CPS have informed the HSE that no such evidence has arisen from Operation Resolve and that there is no prospect of a prosecution of Thames Trains for manslaughter. Accordingly, the CPS has agreed that the HSE may now proceed with its prosecution of Thames Trains Ltd."

Our response to this announcement:

The Paddington Survivors Group welcomes the news that Thames Trains are to be prosecuted under health and safety legislation. The announcement comes at a very difficult time for all involved in the crash, coming just 4 days before the 4th anniversary of the crash.

Whilst we have not actively campaigned for prosecutions following our crash, as survivors we felt that our efforts were best directed to a campaign pressing for greater rail safety.

This prosecution will again highlight the requirement for directors and the responsible people within rail organisations to consider the Health and Safety implications of their decisions. Companies have put money before safety, dividends before lives and profits before employees: a massive punitive fine would bring home to them financially how misguided they were.

The crash was a single incident that could so easily have been prevented. It killed 31 passengers and changed the lives of all the 575 people on board the trains forever. None of this would have happened if Health and Safety had been given the due importance on the agenda of the companies involved.

We have had our lives shattered. This prosecution will help prevent others going through the same nightmare.

Saturday 13th September, 2003 Delay in settling Insurance claims

The PSG understands that St Pauls, the insurers for Thames Trains and Railtrack, have reached the limit of their indemnity over the Paddington Rail Crash and that the cases have been passed to the excess insurer. It has been suggested that the excess insurers intend to delay all claims passed to them while they asses the cases.

The PSG cannot comment on individual cases, however we are concerned by this news regarding the insurers. With the 4th anniversary only a few weeks away it is a sensitive time for everyone involved in the crash. The cases left to be settled are some of the most complicated and involved. Further delay can only add to the stress and pain of these individuals. If this rumour is true, the PSG urges the insurers to resolve this situation sorted as a matter of urgency.

Friday 22nd August, 2003 Transport Minister, Kim Howells MP, was interviewed on the BBC Today programme.

In his interview Dr. Howells said "We have got an incredible kind of risk averse culture, we have got a situation where this is probably the most safe form of transport there is and yet we look at every single accident as if it is the end of civilisation. None of us want accidents on the railways but this is a very serious question.

"Are we going to be paralysed in terms of the way in which we conduct the railway business or are we going to be sensible about it and say 'Sure, there will be accidents'. What we have got to do is make them absolutely minimal and get on with the task of getting millions and millions of people around this country day after day'?

Dr. Howells also compared rail deaths with road deaths.

Our response to these comments:

We are shocked at Dr. Howells ill timed comments this morning, as three major crash anniversaries occur in the next two months.

Today there are survivors of Paddington still coming to terms with what happened on 5th October 1999, that's nearly 4 years ago. Immediately after Paddington John Prescott said 'Money is no object' in making the railways safer, now there appears to be a complete about turn.

The Paddington crash happened because the companies involved did not take safety seriously enough. They now do. We sincerely hope that Dr. Howells comments will not send a signal that safety can be now lower down the agenda again.

You absolutely cannot compare road deaths with rail deaths because as rail passengers we give up our safety to others, in cars we are largely in control of our own destiny.

We have all gone through a life changing situation in surviving a major rail crash. We would not wish it on anyone else.

Tuesday 20th May, 2003 The Government has announced the introduction of Corporate Manslaughter legislation

Home Secretary David Blunkett gave details of a draft bill on corporate killing, with a timetable for legislation and further details to be announced this autumn

Simon Benham, Chair of the PSG said:

"The Paddington Survivors Group has not actively campaigned for Corporate Manslaughter legislation; as survivors we felt that our efforts were best directed to a campaign pressing for greater rail safety.

However, we cautiously welcome the news that it is near to becoming law and we congratulate the bereaved on their successful campaign. We hope that this announcement may help to ease some of the pain they have suffered though the criminal and senseless loss of their loved ones.

We are keen to hear more of the details associated with this law as in principle it may prove difficult to invoke. As a group we have been more in favour of Corporate Responsibility legislation being applied against companies through punitive fines and the loss of their licences to trade; hitting the whole company rather than individual scapegoats.

We hope to be as successful with our campaign on train safety; success with this would ensure that Corporate Manslaughter legislation would not have to used on Britain's Railways."

Tuesday 20th May, 2003 A trial of ERTMS has been announced.

The European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), a sophisticated rail safety system, is being trialled in Wales.

The Cambrian Coast Line from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli will be the testing ground for the system, which will enable trains to travel safely closer together at high speed and will stop trains that have passed red signals. The system also has the advantage of allowing more trains to be run on busy lines - thus increasing capacity on our railways safely.

A safety system such as this would have prevented the driver errors in both the Southall and Paddington crashes, saving 38 lives.

Thursday 1st May, 2003 BBC News reports that some train drivers are cancelling TPWS alarms.

The news item states "There have been several incidents in which drivers have re-set the warning system, failed to tell the signal man and continued in violation of safety rules, according to the Health and Safety Executive. The new Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) is now being fitted across the network designed to prevent disasters caused by drivers passing a red signal."

Simon Benham, Chair of the PSG said:

"We obviously hope that this is not happening, however if it proves to be correct then we are extremely concerned and disappointed that the TPWS safety system is being overridden. The fact that there have been over 100 instances of the system intervening shows that signals are still being passed at red and passengers remain at risk on our railways."

The Paddington crash occurred after a Thames Trains commuter service went past a red light and collided head on at high speed with a First Great Western express. PSG have campaigned for the introduction of Automatic Train Protection (ATP) which is a far more robust safety system.

Monday 24th February, 2003 HSE Release updated Report into Southall Derailment, 24th November, 2002.

A London-bound High Speed Train was derailed as a result of a track defect whilst travelling at 120mph.

Fortunately the train remained upright and there were no serious injuries. This could, however have become the third major incident on this stretch of track in six years.

Wednesday 5th February, 2003 HSC advise Government to delay introduction of safety system

The recommendation by Lord Cullen to introduce the European Rail Traffic Management System on UK high speed railway lines by 2010 has been described as 'not viable' by the HSC. HSC Press Release

The PSG is bitterly disappointed by this decision and will be taking the issue up with Alistair Darling, the Secretary of State for Transport. Trains running over 70mph will remain at risk of collision for at least ten more years. PSG Press Release

Friday 18th January, 2003 BBC "Collision Course"

On 7th January 2003, the BBC transmitted the first in a three programme series called "Collision Course", which dealt with the effects of the Southall train crash of 19th September 1997.

Many PSG Members watched this programme and have made comments on it.

Wednesday 18th December, 2002 Ms. Louise Christian.

We would like to make clear that whilst Ms. Christian may act for individuals involved in the Ladbroke Grove Rail Crash she is not connected with and does not in any way represent the Paddington Survivors Group.

Wednesday 11th December, 2002 is the Anniversary of the Rail Summit Declaration.

The Rail Summit was called by PSG to ensure that the recommendations from the Public Inquiries into Ladbroke Grove (Lord Cullen) and Southall (Professor Uff) did not suffer the same fate as recommendations from previous Public Inquiries such as Clapham. Campaign Update

Simon Benham, Chair of the PSG said:

"It has been a year since the rail summit document was signed. There are positive improvements, however, of more concern there are the number of negatives that still need to be addressed. The rail industry is still trying to find ways of not implementing Lord Cullen's recommendations in contradiction to our rail summit document. This is not acceptable, and the PSG will work hard to make the rail industry keep to this agreement"

Saturday 5th October, 2002 saw the 3rd anniversary of the crash.

The PSG did not hold any special events, however our thoughts were with all those affected by the crash.

Many of the 570 passengers and staff on the trains and their friends and families, members of the emergency services, and those members of the public that assisted are still greatly affected by their experiences.