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The Paddington Tragedy    
5 October 1999         

a view from the sunday press

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Paddington - what the papers say
Sunday, October 10, 1999

photo of crash scene at Paddington - click to enlarge

On the first weekend after the rail disaster at Ladbroke Grove in which more than 40 people were killed, Britain's Sunday newspapers review the worst rail crash in the country for nearly 50 years.

How the Sundays view the disaster

The Sunday Times

Revealed: the fatal flaws in Britain's rail network
RAILTRACK, which is responsible for track safety on the railways, has withheld information from passengers showing how it has secretly classified potential disaster blackspots.
Internal Railtrack documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that senior executives have identified a number of high-risk junctions as potential death traps after near collisions.

Carriage H begins to yield its grim secrets
THE Home Office's leading disaster expert, Dr Iain West, led a team of pathologists into carriage H yesterday to sift ashes lying 2ft-deep for clues to the whereabouts and identities of people who are still missing and presumed dead.
Wearing helmets, face masks and protective overalls, the pathologists lay on their stomachs on wooden pallets suspended above the black debris covering the floor of the tilted coach.

The Independent
Railtrack to be stripped of control over safety
RAILTRACK is to be stripped of its safety regulatory powers in emergency government legislation now being prepared.
Following private talks with Tony Blair yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott made it clear that ministers will take all necessary steps to remove safety from the control of the rail company.

The exhumation of carriage H
THEY arrived at the scene in the grey early morning, having been told what to expect but uncertain what they might find.
They were all experienced, all veterans of other tragedies. They were used to dealing with the minutiae of violent death. But how would you prepare yourself to spend the day on your stomach, your body suspended no more than 12in from piles of human ash, your hands buried in the debris, searching for remains?

The Guardian
Revealed: Railtrack's catalogue of neglect
Railtrack stands accused of weak regulation, secrecy and damaging conflicts of interest in a damning report on its safety record obtained by The Observer.
The criticisms are regarded as so serious by Ministers that Railtrack, the company which owns track and signalling, will be stripped of responsibility for rail safety with the task likely to be handed to the Health and Safety Executive.

The People
The blackened shell of carriage H began to give up its grim secrets yesterday.
A human chain of eight police officers gently carried away the ashes of at least 40 victims who perished in the 1,200C inferno.

Sunday Mirror
It was the day even the most case-hardened rescuer had come to dread. The day when Carriage H at last yielded its awful secret.
At 10.14am yesterday, a team of experts walked into the huge tent surrounding the burnt-out carriage and began the search for what remained of the people inside.

RAIL safety is being jeopardised by the industry's reliance on overtime.
Train drivers can work 12-hour days non-stop for two weeks to boost salaries. Overtime is popular with rail companies who use lucrative bonus schemes to tackle chronic driver shortages.
Unions believe there is a strong link between long hours and the number of red lights that are jumped.

TONY BLAIR yesterday damned Railtrack as completely unfit to hold responsibility for the safety of train passengers.
He ordered the company to be stripped of all powers over safety following the Paddington disaster.

THE BUFFET car on its side in this picture of the devastating Paddington rail crash was welded together from two coaches wrecked in the Southall train tragedy, it was claimed last night.
It was confirmed yesterday that four other carriages on the Great Western train at Paddington were also involved in the Southall disaster.

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This file last updated: Sunday, 10-Oct-1999 12:11:35 EDT
Copyright © David Fry 1999