Accident articles Recent reports, news and views on rail accidents and safety Free email account Free eCards Newsletter Bulletin Board E-mail Danger Ahead! Search Danger Ahead!; RailServe and the Web Help
Danger Ahead!
Danger Ahead! Feature
The Paddington Tragedy!    
5 October 1999         

Disaster at Ladbroke Grove
"The Cullen Inquiry"

Reports   Terms of Reference   Related Items
the inquiry into the ladbroke grove disaster began hearing evidence on 10 May

Hidden Dangers
Hidden Dangers
by Stanley Hall

this book

Make your voice heard at the Danger Ahead! Forum
Comment on the Paddington Disaster

Smoke and Mirrors
The Public Inquiry into the accident at Ladbroke Grove opened on the 10th May. Already the press is reporting selective details and statements which produce a shadow play of facts and circumstances and lead the public into believing the causes are obvious and simple.
The justified call of the bereaved relatives for prosecution of rail managers and the criticism of the Crown Prosecution Service for declaring that it will not seek a prosecution, diverts attention from where the blame really lies in this emotive issue.

No way to run a railway
Evening Standard Editorial Comment
From day one, the Paddington rail crash inquiry has begun to expose a series of appalling safety lapses.
Human error can never be completely eliminated from the operation of a railway, but the way in which trains were run in and out of Paddington made it likely that a single mistake by one driver would sooner or later lead to disaster.

The inquiry into the Paddington rail accident opened on 10 May 2000 under the chairmanship of Lord Cullen. News and links to reports on the inquiry will be published here and updated regularly.

24 May 2000
Firefighters Tell Of Paddington Carnage
Guardian Unlimited 24 May 2000
Firefighters have described the carnage and confusion they found when they arrived on the scene of the Paddington rail crash in which 31 people died.

A Thames train and a London-bound Great Western Express collided on October 5 last year near Ladbroke Grove, west London, on the approach to Paddington Station.

Neil Hay, giving evidence on the 10th day of the public inquiry at Westminster Central Hall, says when he saw Coach H of the Great Western he knew the fire there had reached its maximum ferocity and no one could be saved.

Railtrack 'smearing Paddington driver'
Railtrack was today accused of using Lord Cullen's inquiry into the Paddington rail disaster as "an excuse" to smear Michael Hodder, the Thames Trains driver who died in the tragedy.

Mick Rix, leader of the train drivers' union Aslef, said today: "Since this terrible accident we have had one story running after another attempting to blame the whole crash on Mr Hodder."

Mr Rix said Railtrack's counsel, Stephen Powles QC, had "raised the possibility" that at the time of the crash Mr Hodder, 31, "might have been using a mobile phone to wish his son a happy birthday.

"Simple inquiry would have established that neither Mr Hodder nor his wife owned a mobile phone and that it was not his son's birthday either."

22 May 2000
As the inquiry entered its eigth day it learnt that information about how to use special hammers to break windows in an emergency was inadequate. Alison Forster, operations and safety director for First Great Western said that the company believed that changes made to signs and to the hammers "proved to be inadequate for the customers on the train". Instructions for their use was inserted into pocket timetables issued to passengers.

Colin Paton, the senior conductor on the First Great Western train said that he had had "no training whatsoever" regarding changes made to the rule book which placed responsibility for the safety of passengers with the driver of the train. He told the inquiry that he had spent time trying to contact the driver for instructions. The driver had, of course been killed in the collision.

Train Crash Passengers 'Given Inadequate Safety Information'
Guardian Unlimited 22 May 2000
Inadequate information was given to help passengers smash their way out of the First Great Western express train involved in the Paddington rail disaster, the company owners have admitted.

Alison Forster, operations and safety director for First Great Western, said in spite of improvements made after earlier crashes, signage and information about hammers available in an emergency had not been good enough at the time of the disaster.

Paddington: safety aids 'inadequate'
ThisIsLondon 22 May 2000
On-train signs to help passengers escape from the Great Western express involved in the Paddington disaster were "inadequate" the train operators admitted today.

At the time of the crash, in which 31 died, and 400 were injured, the only way passengers would know there were emergency hammers with which to break the windows were by reading the notice in a "pocket timetable and looking around the carriage".

Survivors have complained the hammers were of little use even when they did find them.

Rail crash failings conceded
BBC Online
Passengers trying to escape from the Paddington rail crash did not have enough safety details, the owners of one of the trains involved has conceded.

First Great Western said safety procedures "proved to be inadequate for the customers on the train".

19 May 2000
I pulled 15 to safety in Paddington crash
Online Mirror 19 May 2000
A rookie train driver told yesterday how he saved up to 15 people in the inferno of the Paddington disaster.
Scott Dicker, 26, was in the rear driver's cabin of the Thames train which collided head-on with a Great Western Express.
He escaped by smashing a window above the door, then used the tiny opening as an escape route for passengers as fire spread.

Paddington: 'I saved man from fire'
ThisIsLondon 19 May 2000
A survivor of the Paddington rail crash today told how he rescued a fellow passenger trapped in Carriage H of the Great Western express.
At the inquiry into the disaster - in which 31 people died and hundreds were injured - Chris Goodall described the moment when the high-speed train he was on collided with the Thames Trains turbo service at Ladbroke Grove just before 8am on 5 October last year.
Carriage H was mangled beyond recognition. Mr Goodall freed himself from the wreckage, then risked his life by returning to pull out a fellow passenger. He also told of his regret at being unable to save another man trapped by a "pool of fire".

18 May 2000
Passenger forced to climb over bodies
BBC Online 18 May 2000
A survivor at the Paddington rail crash had to climb over bodies to escape the twisted wreckage, the inquiry has heard.
Peter Palmer, who was travelling in the Great Western express, broke down in tears as he recalled the events at the inquiry into the accident.
Another passenger, Wayne Levy, who did not realise he was suffering from a fractured hip, told how he managed to pull a colleague free of the debris on the Thames train.

Miracle escape for Paddington crash woman
ThisIsLondon 18 May 2000
A woman on the Thames Turbo train involved in the Paddington rail crash spent almost five hours trapped in an air pocket lying beneath a dead man before she was rescued, the inquiry into the disaster heard today.
Majella Lyons said emergency workers' professionalism and compassion kept her going as she lay in the dark in the wreckage of the train's middle carriage.

17 May 2000
Witnesses describe the full horror of the fire at Ladbroke Grove
The inquiry began to hear evidence from survivors of the accident on Monday (May 15). Evidence was heard first from conductors on the First Great Western train, then from its passengers. Beginning with those who had been travelling at the rear, in coach B evidence was heard or statements read from each successive coach until today when those who were in coaches F and H were examined. Coach H was the most seriously damaged by the fire which engulfed the front part of the train.

Those who were travelling in the Thames Train "Turbo" unit will begin their evidence tomorrow (May 18).

Passenger describes fireball horror
BBC Online 17 May 2000
A Paddington rail crash survivor saw a woman engulfed in flames when the two trains collided, the disaster inquiry has heard.
Claire Gasan, from Stroud, Gloucestershire, who was in coach F on the Great Western train, broke down in tears as she recalled the moment she saw the woman killed.

Paddington: "fireball engulfed me"
ThisIsLondon 17 May 2000
Pamela Warren, whose horrific burns from the Paddington rail crash stunned the country when she was pictured in her medical face mask at the public inquiry, told today of the agonising moments which so dramatically altered her life.

Mrs Warren, 33, wearing her transparent mask to prevent further facial scarring and with her hands still bandaged, told the inquiry that as her wrecked Great Western train came to a shuddering halt she looked over her shoulder to see the fireball hurtling towards her.

Rail crash survivors recall 'jet of fire'
Guardian Unlimited 17 May 2000
The full horror of the inferno in coach H was revealed today as more witnesses told their survival stories to the public inquiry into the Paddington rail disaster.
On what is the third day of evidence by witnesses into the collision on October 5, 1999, between a London-bound Great Western train and a Thames train, near Ladbroke Grove on the approach to Paddington station, crash survivor Keith Stiles told the inquiry he needed 40 operations after being hit head-on by a "flame thrower" spurting a jet of fire.

Rail disaster rescue 'hampered'
Guardian Unlimited
Survivors of the Paddington rail disaster yesterday told how inadequate safety standards and emergency equipment hampered efforts to save the lives of horrifically burned passengers.
First aider, Andrew Cowgill of Cirencester, Gloucestershire, said he could not find first aid equipment to help other passengers.
He told the public inquiry into the accident that there should be regulations to reduce the potential for serious injury by ensuring all passengers had seats.
16 May 2000
Paddington: 'futile effort to save lives'
ThisIsLondon 16 May 2000
A survivor of the Paddington train crash told today how he was unable to save passengers trapped in a blazing carriage as they screamed at him for help.
University lecturer Anthony Knox told the inquiry he had joined a group of passengers desperately trying to pull the injured from the two trains. "The heat was so bad we just had to leave them," he said.

Rail Crash Survivor Condemns Safety Standards
Guardian Unlimited 16 May 2000
A Paddington rail crash survivor has condemned safety standards after recalling how he tried in vain to save the life of a badly-burned fellow passenger.
First Aider Andrew Cowgill of Cirencester, Gloucestershire, said he could not find First Aid equipment to help other passengers and called for new regulations to reduce the potential for serious injury and overcrowding by ensuring all passengers had seats.

I tried to save 2 in flames
Online Mirror 16 May 2000
Hero train guard Gerald Gough wept yesterday as he told the Paddington disaster inquiry how he tried to save two passengers on fire.
They were trapped below the Thames Turbo train after it collided with Great Western's Intercity 125 express last October.
Mr Gough, one of the first to escape from the crash, helped around 50 passengers down on to the track before hearing screams.

Rail safety training 'hit by privatisation'
The Times 16 May 2000
A RAIL manager praised for his life-saving action in the Paddington train crash said yesterday that emergency training had deteriorated since privatisation.
Mike Thomas, an off-duty senior guard, was commended for his quick thinking during the disaster, when he cut off electricity supplies and evacuated part of a train enveloped by fire. However, Mr Thomas said that emergency training had been less frequent in recent years and that his experience under British Rail had been more useful.

15 May 2000
Train crash hero praised
BBC Online 15 May 2000
A passenger involved in the Paddington rail crash has described how he helped drag a badly burned man to safety. Philip Scotcher, 24, from Tetbury in Gloucestershire, was commended for his heroic act at the public inquiry into the fateful rail crash on 5 October. It heard how Mr Scotcher helped drag 18-stone, 6ft 7in Michael Adams to safety after finding him sitting down engulfed in flames.

Screams of Paddington dead
ThisIsLondon 15 May 2000
A survivor of the Paddington rail crash told today how he heard passengers dying in the wreckage moments after he had jumped clear.
"We could hear piercing screams coming from inside the Thames train. It was the most awful sound that I have ever heard ... then the screams died down," 24-year-old Philip Scotcher told the inquiry into the accident today.

Crash carriages back on network
ThisIsLondon 15 May 2000
Paddington rail crash survivors today condemned a move by Great Western Trains to return four carriages of its high-speed train involved in the disaster back into service.
Three of the four carriages were also involved in the Southall crash, in which seven people died.
Emily Horch from San Jose, who was badly burned in the crash, said it was "typical of the callousness they have shown".

Paddington Crash Hero Saved Man In Pool Of Fire
Guardian Unlimited 15 May 2000

11 May 2000
Death train firm 'put profits before

The Times 12 May 2000
A TRAIN company involved in the Paddington rail crash has paid shareholders almost as much in dividends as it would have cost to prevent the disaster, it was disclosed yesterday.
Thames Trains rejected plans to introduce an £8.2 million safety system to stop trains that pass red signals because it was estimated that the expenditure would save only one life, valued at £2.5 million.
In the two years after the firm decided against the system, £7.5 million was paid to shareholders, but 31 lives were lost when a Thames train passed a red light outside London's Paddington station last October.

Paddington Inquiry Told 'Accident Was A Man-made Event'
GuardianUnlimited, 11 May 2000
The Paddington rail crash inquiry has heard that Thames Trains refused to spend the "modest" net sum of £5.26 million on a train protection system which could have prevented the deaths of 31 people.
John Hendy QC said the accident was not "an act of God" but "a man-made event", adding that Thames later paid out a dividend to shareholders of £4.23 million and a year later paid a further dividend of £3.25 million.

Train chiefs 'put shareholders before lives'
BBC Online, 11 May 2000

Paddington: profit before safety
ThisIsLondon, 11 May 2000

The Ladbroke Grove Rail Inquiry
opens in new window

Terms of Reference of the Ladbroke Grove Inquiry
  1. To inquire into, and draw lessons from, the accident near Paddington station on 5 October 1999, taking account of the findings of the HSE’s investigations into immediate causes.

  3. To consider general experience derived from relevant accidents on the railway since the Hidden Inquiry, with a view to drawing conclusions about:

    1. factors which affect safety management
    2. the appropriateness of the current regulatory regime.

  5. In the light of the above, to make recommendations for improving safety on the future railway.


Click Here!

Top Nothing Home   Accidents   Features     Currents   7 Days   Gallery   Bookshop   SignalPost Mail   Newsletter   Postcards   Guestbook   Forum   Links   Map   Search   Contact

This file last updated: Wednesday, 07-Jun-2000 19:42:08 EDT
Copyright © David Fry 1999, 2000